- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ailing running back Clinton Portis is a game-time decision for the second straight week, Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn said after Friday’s practice.

Portis, who did not take any reps in practice all week after getting kicked in his calf in last week’s loss to Detroit, agreed with that assessment. Still, both the coach and running back expect Portis to play Sunday against Tampa Bay at FedEx Field.

Portis officially is listed as questionable - just as he was a week ago, when his main woe was lingering bone spurs in his ankle.

“My struggle is if I put him out there, am I just gonna do this over and over again?” Zorn said. “And I do need to get him well. That is my dilemma. I’m leaning toward playing him because he’s a force and he loves to play.”

Portis has had just one game with more than 80 yards since injuries began to hinder him at the midpoint of last season. The Redskins, who had won 10 of their previous 12 regular-season games at that point, are 3-8 since.

“It’s hard when a running back such as he can’t do all the things he’s capable of doing,” Zorn said.

Typically, Portis talks to the media only in a group session Wednesday and after games. He consented to a brief interview Friday, which he started by wondering whether there was anything to talk about. Portis was told he would be a game-time decision.

“Whatever Jim say,” Portis said. “That’s what it is. Want me to tell you something different?”

Since Zorn couldn’t attest to how Portis was feeling, the running back was asked.

“A game-time decision,” he said. “Have a nice night, guys. Don’t drink too much, OK?”

Ladell Betts and Marcus Mason split the first-team reps in Portis’ absence. Rock Cartwright will be active, mainly to return kickoffs. Zorn said Anthony Alridge likely will be inactive after suiting up last week.

Thursday’s other ailing starters - fullback Mike Sellers (quadriceps), defensive tackles Albert Haynesworth (hip) and Cornelius Griffin (thigh) and cornerback DeAngelo Hall (ankle) - were on the field for a light practice Friday.

Backup defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery (knee) wasn’t able to work again and is doubtful. The 2007 starter has been inactive each week even though he was healthy for the opener.

Skolnitsky survives

When the Redskins convened for minicamp in May, 28 players were in uniform on a tryout basis. The list included NFL veterans Jeremy Bridges, D.J. Hackett and Kelley Washington.

Defensive end J.D. Skolnitsky was an undrafted rookie from James Madison. His odds of being signed and invited to training camp weren’t promising. The chances of the Fairfax native still being in the locker room in October, albeit on the practice squad, were even thinner.

Skolnitsky started training camp by being yelled at by line coach John Palermo and then missing a week with a tender hamstring. But he had a sack in the preseason opener at Baltimore and wound up on the practice squad after Philadelphia claimed fellow rookie free agent Antonio Dixon.

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who kept one-time rookie free agent lineman Ryan Boschetti around for five years, said he sees some of the same traits in Skolnitsky.

“J.D. got that reprieve, and he has made the most of that chance,” Blache said. “He’s got a lot of promise. He’s got a good motor. He’s got a high ceiling. One day I see him possibly being a tackle. He’s got a little Boschetti in him. He’s using his hands better. He understands how to use his body leverage better. The longer he’s here, the more he’ll learn and the better he’s going to get.”

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