- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2009

Jim Zorn wants to call more running plays for the Washington Redskins’ offense.

If only he had more opportunities.

The Redskins are 28th in time of possession (27:19) and 26th in rushing attempts (68). In the fourth quarter of their two losses, they have been forced to abandon the running game in order to rally.

This week’s opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rank second-to-last in rush defense (187.3).

“We’re not going to become Ground Jim, but we are going to run the ball and mix it up,” Zorn said Wednesday.

The key cog of that running game, Clinton Portis, missed practice with a bad calf but is expected to play. Portis is 16th in carries (47) and 22nd in yards (183).

Portis said the bone spurs in his ankles, which caused him to miss practice last week, have bothered him for two years, but a new treatment plan has eliminated the pain.

“I always had bone spurs; they just weren’t as irritated as they became the last few weeks,” he said. “Right now, they actually feel fine now. We’re doing a lot of work to get them right.”

Portis continues to predict the Redskins will soon be a “special” offense.

“People are ready to throw in the towel - it’s Week 4 of the NFL season,” he said. “There are a lot of teams in the same situation as us. Because we’ve had close games with the Rams and Lions, they’re like, ‘Oh, we suck.’ We have the opportunity to go and do something special. We have a long season ahead of us.”

Four starters sit

In addition to Portis, fullback Mike Sellers (quadriceps), cornerback Carlos Rogers (ankle) and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (hip) sat out practice but are expected to play against Tampa Bay.

Rogers has proved he can play effectively with minimal practice time; he barely played in August but has started all three games.

“The older you are, the more you get into the film and know what to expect,” Rogers said. “This week won’t be different than the New York [Giants] week.”

The Buccaneers listed 12 players on their injury list, but only two starters - center Jeff Faine and defensive end Gaines Adams - sat out the entire practice.

Trying to lead

While players said Zorn’s message to the team Wednesday morning didn’t include anything major, such as handing off the playcalling duties or changing the offensive philosophy, the team’s six captains have talked to their teammates.

“We try to inspire guys,” quarterback Jason Campbell said. “They choose us as captains at the beginning of the year, and it’s our job to take the approach that inspires guys to play with a sense of urgency, a sense of excitement, a sense of fun. That’s what we’ve been missing.”

The captains have urged teammates to ignore the negativity swirling around the team.

“We have to forget about all that,” Campbell said. “Now is the time for us to start having fun again, win games, push each other a little harder and let it all go.”

Thomas looks forward

Injured right guard Randy Thomas was back on the field watching practice following triceps surgery late last week.

“It’s never fun to know your season is over,” he said. “I’m just glad I got the surgery done and on my way to get back. … You prepare in the offseason to go through a season and hope things don’t happen, but people outside looking in don’t understand the violence and beast of this game is before you even hit somebody [in a game]. You have to practice, and you’re hitting.”

Thomas intends to rehabilitate and hasn’t considered the effect another major injury could have on his career.

“I’ve never had that thought in my mind,” he said. “Mentally, I’m never giving up until I say enough is enough.”

Tough special teams

Tampa Bay may be 0-3 and ranked 27th in scoring, but the Redskins know they’ll have to be on point on special teams.

The Buccaneers’ kickoff and punt return teams each rank eighth in the league. The Redskins are tied for second in punt coverage and lead in kickoff coverage.

“Wow, they fly around,” Rock Cartwright said. “They have a lot of guys that run really well. We’ll definitely have to bring our ‘A’ game.”

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