- The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 2009

ATLANTA | Already missing three key players from their offense, the Washington Redskins could ill-afford to be without yet another player - let alone Clinton Portis.

But that’s exactly what they had to deal with Sunday after Portis left early in the 31-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons with a concussion. The running back became the Redskins’ fourth starter - and third 2008 Pro Bowl pick - to be sidelined.

Portis, the NFL’s leading rusher a year earlier, suffered a concussion when he and Atlanta safety Thomas DeCoud banged helmets with 3:01 left in the first quarter. Portis lay on the turf for a couple of minutes before being helped to his feet.

“He got knocked out and was a little woozy,” coach Jim Zorn said. “He had one of those smiles on his face, wondering what the heck happened. He didn’t remember the play.”

Replacement Ladell Betts said Portis was doing much better after the game.

Still, Portis joined an impressive group on the sideline. Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels (neck) is done for the season and maybe for his career. Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley (ankle) is not supposed to return before Week 13 at Philadelphia. And right guard Randy Thomas is done for the year and perhaps his career with a torn triceps.

Portis, who has started 40 consecutive games, finished with 4 yards on four carries, the worst day of his eight-year career. He concluded the first half of the season with just 494 yards. He had 944 yards at midseason 2008.

Horton starts, Blades plays

Chris Horton, who tweaked his right knee during Thursday’s practice, started at strong safety. However, Horton walked gingerly to the bus with an ailing toe on his left foot. Fellow safety Reed Doughty sprained a knee during the fourth quarter.

Linebacker H.B. Blades not only played just 12 days after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery but he also leveled Falcons receiver Michael Jenkins during the second quarter and prevented Eric Weems from scooting to the end zone after a 38-yard kickoff return on which Lorenzo Alexander failed to make a tackle.

“I felt good enough to play,” said Blades, who wore only a thin rubber sleeve to protect the knee and didn’t take a painkilling shot. “It sucks being injured and not being able to help the team, so I made an effort to get back as soon as possible.”

Linebacker Robert Henson, Washington’s sixth-round draft choice, made his NFL debut, as did undrafted rookie offensive lineman Edwin Williams.

Mitchell’s first catches

Seventh-round pick Marko Mitchell, playing for the first time since Week 2, made his first two catches, both 11-yard gains for first downs.

“The first one, I was like, ‘OK. Make sure I catch and secure the ball,’ ” Mitchell said. “I didn’t keep it. I’m waiting for my first touchdown.”

Mitchell took the place of cornerback Byron Westbrook (knee) on special teams ahead of cornerback Kevin Barnes, a third-round pick who has been inactive all season.

Extra points

Samuels, who told linemates last month he was retiring because of the stinger he suffered in Week 5 on top of his previously diagnosed narrowing of the spine, was in the locker room along with Thomas and Cooley after the game.

“I feel great now,” the 32-year-old Samuels said. “I’ve got to get re-evaluated in probably 2 1/2 months. Once I get re-evaluated, we’ll see if I can play again.” …

With two sacks Sunday, linebacker Brian Orakpo has 5.5 at midseason, just half a sack shy of the team rookie record held by Dean Hamel (1985) and Andre Collins (1990).



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