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Portis Says O Line Has "Major Upgrades"

(By John McDonnell - TWP)

A year ago this week, Barry Svrluga caused some mild tumult at Redskins Park by publishing this story about Clinton Portis, in which the back seemed to malign his offensive line.

"I wish I could go to a team for one week with the best offensive line, or the team with the best scheme, and switch places with their back and see how others would do in this system," Portis said then. "I get a lot of touches with nowhere to run. I could see if I got all those touches and had some lanes, but there's nine or 10 men in the box."

Well, a year later, Portis has been on his best behavior, and has yet to malign this year's line. No, he's still too busy maligning last year's line!

Ok, I'm kind of joking. Portis never seems to intentionally pull the lever that opens up the secret trap door that sends various current or former teammates careening out of the bottom of the bus and directly under those pesky wheels. It just sort of happens. Here's what he said on ESPN 980's John Thompson Show Tuesday, when asked if this year's offensive line is better than last year's version.

"I actually think so," Portis said. "I think getting [Derrick Dockery] back and having Stephon [Heyer] finally on the right side for a full season, I think those are major upgrades. You know, no disrespect to Jon Jansen or Pete Kendall, but I think Pete gave everything he had. [It] was just hard [for him] to move. You know, he gave 100 percent, it just looked like he was going at 60."

[The wheels on the bus go round and round. - ed.]

"But I think Pete was probably one of the smartest players that I ever played with," Portis continued. "You know, he knew every situation in a game, and he went out and gave it everything he had. But now having Dock and Stephon, I think it makes our line younger. I think it's an upgrade."

At least in the portion of the interview that was replayed on the Sports Reporters, that was the most controversial thing Portis said, which is a huge step in the right direction for him. In fact, most of the rest of his comments consisted of unmitigated praise.

Praise For Jim Zorn: Portis said that after a year of growing pains, players now understand Jim Zorn, and Zorn now understands "the players' point of view and where we coming from. And I think the lines of communication are better with everybody in the facility, not just me. I think everybody beginning to be on the same page, and if anybody got a problem, they speak to him about it, and he give you the opportunity, come speak your mind and we'll go from there."

Praise For His Health: Portis said he was banged up on the first offensive play against the Patriots last month, but that he "couldn't bear to take the chance of going out after the first play of the game and all of the sudden, 'Ah, he's faking he's hurt!' So I tried to play through it, and I got into halftime and Coach came and told me, he was like, ell, that's good, you're done.' And I was like, 'Good, 'cause I'm hurting.' I just got the X- rays, everything came back negative, so I'm cool."

Praise For Malcolm Kelly: When asked about the running game, Portis pretty much decided to stop discussing the running game and start discussing the passing game.

"For us, opening up, going downfield, having the explosion, having Malcolm Kelly healthy, having Malcolm Kelly with confidence," he said, ticking off positives. "You know, if you watch the games, you see his hands, so I think having a confident and healthy Malcolm Kelly instantly upgrades this offense. Then you look at the unknown factor and that's having Fred Davis on the other side of Chris Cooley. So if we can get into any personnel, we can go two tight ends with Malcolm and Santana out wide, or we can go four wide and put all our receivers on the field, we can go with Mike Sellers and Yoder and run a power game, so I think it's exciting."

Praise for 2009, Generally Speaking, Yo: "I think just knowing what we're capable of doing and seeing the way guys have stepped up and having Mike back in front of me, I think it's just a positive outlook on the season," Portis said. "I think everybody gonna play hard and all of a sudden it's like everybody got something to prove. You know, I think everybody's tired of, 'Oh, they started off 6-2 and look what happened down the end.' I mean, we got hit with the injury bug. You know, people don't realize that, people don't understand what's going on, there's always, 'Oh, they did [this], they did that.] We got hit by the injury bug. No excuses. We faltered, we fell off, and coming into this year, we've got to do better."

Hey, it isn't even Week 1 yet. Positivity is encouraged.

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 9, 2009; 7:47 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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it's great to see that Clinton doesn't pull any's good to get the real scoop on what's going on on the field.

Posted by: ralston21 | September 9, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Am I missing something? Because Clinton said this years line is better health wise and age wise, he is downing last years line? Andy Pollin is still up to his old tricks of creating a controversy where there is none. Everyone knows last year the line didn't hold up..... come on

Posted by: punchdaclock | September 9, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I love it:
He just LOOKED like he was going 60.
Hear that Kendall? No hard feelings. You just suck, that's all. Okay? Now go get your shine box!

Posted by: pgugino | September 9, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"got hit by the "injury bug"--as the legendary Ken Beatrice used to say, injuries aren't an excuse, they're a fact of life in the NFL. Unfortunately, the Redskins, because of the huge salaries they pay to free agents, etc., aren't constructed to afford quality depth--and thus will always falter when injuries inevitably hit...

Posted by: TheFingerman | September 9, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Clinton Portis exudes sex appeal. I want me some Clinton Portis.

Right here. Right now.

Posted by: signatures | September 9, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Clinton, everyone sees through you. A few truths with lying PC backtalk to cover your rear ever since you got to DC. Do you realize how little sense you make when you talk?

"I mean, we got hit with the injury bug. You know, people don't realize that, people don't understand what's going on...No excuses."

You probably think that people don't take you serious because you wear clown wigs and such, but the truth is people don't take you seriously because you don't have anything legitimate to say. This is just one example, but in all your time here your words have been completely incongruous. Fortunately for you, you're a good running back, but the team might do a little better if you became one of those silent leaders.

Posted by: zickzack | September 10, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

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