- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday: Running backs | Wednesday: Linebackers

The third of a nine-part series previewing the Washington Redskins heading into the July 30 opening of training camp.

Who’s back: Starters Clinton Portis and Mike Sellers and reserves Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright.

Who’s new: Anthony Alridge, Dominique Dorsey, Jonathan Evans, Eddie Williams. Cut in camp last year, Marcus Mason returns from Baltimore’s practice squad.

2008 review: Halfway through the year, Portis was on pace for more than 1,600 yards rushing, but his injuries and a banged-up offensive line limited him to two second-half touchdowns. Portis, who also clashed with coach Jim Zorn on more than one occasion, and Sellers made the Pro Bowl.

Offseason review: By Portis’ standards, it was relatively calm. He made several appearances at the team’s organized team activities and denied there is a rift with Zorn. Sellers stayed away from OTAs (here’s guessing he wants a new contract).


1. How will Portis and Zorn co-exist after a rocky 2008? This will be one of the interesting subplots starting with the first day of training camp. Zorn expects more from Portis during the week than Joe Gibbs ever did. But it might be smart for Zorn to find a middle ground with Portis to avoid a weekly brouhaha. As long as Portis gets his carries and the Redskins are having moderate success, the two should get along.

2. Will steps to keep Portis fresh for December be adopted? This should be Zorn’s biggest adjustment. Betts had only one double-digit carry game last year, and Portis posted at least 21 rushes in the first nine games. Eventually he wore down. Putting Betts on the field for selected third downs and giving him a series or two each half may mean more late-season production from Portis, who failed to reach more than 80 yards in the last five games.

3. Is there any chance the Redskins keep five running backs instead of the usual four? The only way to keep five running backs is to cut a spot at another position (maybe five receivers). The wild cards are Alridge and Dorsey. Dorsey was a productive return man in Canada, and Alridge is a speedy back who can also return kicks/punts. If either shows consistent flashes on special teams, Zorn might hang on to one - but not both - players.


5.0/3.5 Yards a carry for Clinton Portis in the first and second halves of the year.

Want more Redskins? Follow Ryan O’Halloran on Twitter at @ryanohalloran and read our Redskins 360 blog at www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/redskins.

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