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Job of 'Home Run Hitter' Still Open

Clinton Portis rushed for almost 1,500 yards last season despite having no gains of more than 31 yards. And the Skins' top back has had no rushes of at least 40 yards in the last three seasons.

No. 2 back Ladell Betts, expected to play a bigger role this season, rushed for more than 1,100 yards in 2006. Betts, however, had no gains of at least 30 yards in his first seven seasons.

The Skins' ground game has been productive with Portis and Betts occupying the first two spots on the depth chart. But Portis and Betts are not considered "home run hitters," speed backs capable of breaking big plays on every touch.

No. 1 wideout Santana Moss was the team's only big-play threat last season, ranking 12th in the league with 15 receptions of at least 20 yards and tied for 20th with three gains of 40 or more yards. Adding a speed back with the potential to consistently break long runs was among the items on Vinny Cerrato's to-do list to improve an offense that produced an average of only 16.6 points and ranked 28th in the 32-team league.

"It's another weapon," Cerrato said. "It's something the defense has to prepare for. And if you make a mistake, it could be a big play."

Cerrato did not attempt to address the situation in the draft, but the Skins claimed Anthony Alridge off waivers and signed free agent Dominique Dorsey from the Canadian Football League. Alridge spent the 2008 season on injured reserve with the Broncos and Dorsey excelled on special teams for the Toronto Argonauts.

Alridge is listed at 5 feet 9, 175 pounds. Dorsey's listed measurements are 5-7, 175. Obviously, they are diminutive backs, which usually is the case with speed guys. Darren Sproles is about the same size as Alridge and Dorsey, and acquiring Sproles seems to have worked pretty well for the Chargers.

"Everyone knows what Clinton and Ladell do for our offense, and we definitely need those guys to be healthy and out there to reach the level we want to as a team," quarterback Jason Campbell said. "But as an offense, you want to have as many weapons as you can. You want to give the defense as much as you can to think about. A lot of times, those little guys can do big things for you."

Alridge and Dorsey are expected to receive plenty of work in the preseason, and the Skins are hoping one of them emerges as a viable option for a situational role on offense and, potentially, a major role on special teams. Special-teams standout Rock Cartwright is entrenched as the team's primary kickoff returner after he ranked sixth in the NFC last season with an average of 25.6 yards.

Things aren't as firm on punt returns. Antwaan Randle El struggled last season and could be unseated as the top option for that role. Of course, there's a long way to go on that front. And in addition to having to prove themselves on special teams, Alridge and Dorsey must block well enough to inspire confidence in the coaching staff to use them on offense.

Marcus Mason, who is back in camp with the Skins, impressed in the 2008 preseason, but failed to make the 53-man roster, in large part, because of his deficiencies in third-down pass protection. So the formula is clear for Alridge and Dorsey: star on special teams, pick up blitzes well and you'll be in the running to stick with the Skins.

"We're going to watch 'em big time in the preseason," Cerrato said. "But they've got to be able to block. You've got to pick up the blitz."

By Jason Reid  |  August 6, 2009; 12:47 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Comments

"We're going to watch 'em big time in the preseason," Cerrato said. "But they've got to be able to block. You've got to pick up the blitz."

Heck, with our OL, who'll need to blitz us?

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 6, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

1nd? Beyond blocking, aren't there still issues with these two re holding onto the ball?

Posted by: boothintexas | August 6, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I've never commented before. You guys are all negative, all the time. It drives me nuts. When we beat Dallas or Portis rushes for a buck fifty everyone is a fan. When guys get busted up or we lose a game everyone whines weeps like TO after a playoff loss. Keep your asinine comments to yourselves. Be a fan. Support the team or go support Philly, Dallas or NYG. They added monsters in the offseason and are under year two of Zorn's offense. Have some faith, suckers.

Posted by: lavararrington | August 6, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

How on earth are they going to pick up a blitz? I think Alridge would be best as a receiver out of the backfield or even in the slot. He played some receiver in his early college days.

Posted by: FITS | August 6, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"How on earth are they going to pick up a blitz? "

RB 3rd down blitz pick isnt all braun. lots of brains and technique to be trusted to play on 3rd down. They dont have to be sellers-esq simply smart and dedicated. Its not like leon washington pancakes people but he is savy enough to know his job in protection.

The smart ones know if you have to be accounted foe as blocker your oppurtunities to quirt out for screens etc grows.

Posted by: chrislarry | August 6, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Rather have two 1,000-yard rushers like the Giants than an overpaid loudmouth who gets 1,500 but fades at different points in the season. More carries for Betts for a more consistent running game.


Posted by: loux24 | August 6, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"Rather have two 1,000-yard rushers like the Giants"

you need to write that in the past tense....

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 6, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

First time being 1st!!!

Posted by: TheJury | August 6, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

From etremeskins

Chad Rinehart and Jeremy Bridges got the starts at right guard and right tackle, respectively. I would say that the offensive looked better today. Jeremy Bridges looked as good as he has all camp long. I am not anointing him a starter or a backup, but he did look better. Rinehart looked much better in pass blocking and run blocking situations. He fared well against Cornelius Griffin and Kedric Golston. He missed one or two blocks, but he had a ton of repetitions and played as well as I have seen him play. With Randy Thomas coming back from injury and limited over the past couple of days, Reinhart will get a lot of snaps for the rest of camp and into the pre-season. I interviewed him after practice and he seems up to the task. I know that everyone who is reading this post is hoping the Rinehart can prove everyone wrong and be a player.

Overall the offense seemed to be crisper today. The offensive line held up better than they have earlier in camp. With that being said, a lot of quick slants and check downs were thrown. It appears that the offensive staff is looking to help the offensive line out with quick releases. I am sure that the quarterbacks will appreciate that strategy. I think we will see a lot of that this season. The running game also was better. Clinton Portis has a nice sweep for a touchdown. The defense was not as dominant today as it has been over the past few days. There are still issues on the offensive line, but they were able to move the ball with short passes to Kelly, Sellers, and several other receivers.

Reed Doughty continues to play well. He looks quicker and had another interception today, as did Kareem Moore. The safety position seems deep and has performed well, to this point. Cornerback is still up in the air with Carlos Rogers skipping this camp with a sore calf and Fred Smoot aging. It is going to be interesting to watch Justin Tryon and Kevin Barnes compete for time on the field.

Brian Orakpo continues to impress in space and seems to be fitting into the strong side linebacker role well. Still suited better for defensive end, he is playing well and continues to impress. It is going to be fun to watch Orakpo develop over the next few weeks.

Posted by: TWISI | August 6, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

twis, thanks for the update....good stuff....

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 6, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Not past tense, BeantownGreg1. Ahmad Bradshaw stepping in nicely for Derrick Ward this year. Best line in NFC. Plus a real GM.

Posted by: loux24 | August 6, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Brian, I believe bubba tyer and his legacy are the PROBLEM to begin with.

I only have anecdotal to back it up & numbers would be nice - but I haven't seen an attempt at a healthy team yet.

I don't believe their training staff is/was following the right regimen and I don't believe they have adequate medical support.

The Dolphins seem to do this so much better. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but I'd love to see some stats on that...

Posted by: DikShuttle | August 6, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

That Mark Sanchez statement was interesting. Let's face it guys Latinos do work harder than blacks. I can vouch for that, my lawn guy does way better job that I could ever do with the same equipment. It's no knock on us black folks, just a pure fact.

Posted by: whitepeopleareafraidtotalkaboutracialissues | August 6, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

nice work twisi! are you covering camp in an official capacity?

Posted by: chrislarry | August 6, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

loux, so you're a Giants fan trolling a redskins blog, thanks for clarifying for me......

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 6, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Drop the 31 yard rule thing MAyor. That's a JLaC ploy!

Clinton Portis had the most, I REPEAT, MOST RUSHES OVER 20 YARDS LAST YEAR.....

Posted by: 4thFloor | August 6, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

CL

No. The post was a cut and paste job of an extremeskin entry.

Posted by: TWISI | August 6, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

WPAATTARI,

You're full ITA, bro. And you're wrong.

Posted by: DikShuttle | August 6, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I just saw an interview and Clinton Portis clearly addressed this issue. First, he mentioned that he was a homerun hitting running back in his years with Denver. He realize as he's getting older yards are harder to get.

Second, he talked down on the OFFENSIVE line last year about the way the underachieve as a group. WE ALL REMEMBER THAT, DON'T WE!!! New England Patriots don't have an EXPLOSIVE running back, but what they do have is an Offensive Line for Brady to pick apart a defense.

The Redskins will achieve or fail based on the offensive line this year. Clinton Portis, I am not worried about WHAT SO EVER!!! He will bring it year-in-and-year-out.

Posted by: clifton3 | August 6, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

C "Crisco" P is a bada$$. knocks on him are inane.

Posted by: DikShuttle | August 6, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

BeantownGreg1 grow up!

Posted by: whitepeopleareafraidtotalkaboutracialissues | August 6, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

From the Boston Globe regarding the Pat:

Their camp breakdown so far:

11 full pads

2 walkthroughs

1 shorts and light shoulder pads

Curious how that compares to the Redskins camp??

One observation stood out from this practice: Bill Belichick throwing a large medicine ball at quarterbacks during a red-zone passing drill.

It is always interesting to see how coaches introduce new drills, and Belichick was firing the large ball at his quarterbacks after they dropped back to pass, the idea for them to focus on their footwork while keeping their eyes up the field.

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 6, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

twisi -- I love the line in that entry

"I interviewed him after practice and he seems up to the task."

Because we can all tell from an interview how good a guy is going to be, right?

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 6, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: Cindy Boren | August 6, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Cliff, et al,

I believe this team can still produce even IF the line is crapola. They do have to attack some things better, tho.

Posted by: DikShuttle | August 6, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

It is always interesting to see how coaches introduce new drills, and Belichick was firing the large ball at his quarterbacks after they dropped back to pass, the idea for them to focus on their footwork while keeping their eyes up the field.

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 |

Belicheck is channeling Zorn? That is NEWS!!!

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 6, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

In terms of Heyer...it is called progression...You know it is what usually happens when a young player works hard during the off season and gains more experience...For an undrafted rook to even start in his second year is usually unheard of. I think he will be a legit starter this year (save for injuries)...

In terms of depth...I agree with you completely. We need to go sign someone like runyan. Granted he is old, but he is a vet w/ starting experience (esp. in the nfc east). He would be an upgrade at tackle better then anyone else we have on the 2nd string.

Posted by: merajc86 | August 6, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I completely get that Heyer has probably improved and given what was/is on our roster should be the starter. Even if Jansen was still here he would be, I get that, support that, agree with that and blah blah blah....but to expect that he is suddenly a major upgrade and an above average RT in this league is expecting a lot. And while I hated watching Jansen at times last year he still would have been half decent depth behind Samuels and Heyer in case one or both got hurt. Right now we have no depth behind them besides out of position Bridges and some guy named Burley. I have to believe/hope that a move will be made soon, they can't really be thinking this is good enough for a 16 game season....Jonas Jennings, Mark Columbo, Mark Tauscher, Runyan any of these guys or any two of these guys would be cheap additions to give us a little bit of depth behind Samuels and Heyer. I want Levi Jones but he will get paid starter money, personally I think we need a starter at RT and since we refuse to draft lineman we should go ahead and sign a starter, but if we want the cheap route any of those four would be better than what we have. A legit tackle to be the backup and then Rhino and Bridges at guard and Bridges at tackle if necessary in a calamity situation of both Samuels and Heyer hurt makes so much more sense than what we have now.

Posted by: zjfr2 | August 6, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: zjfr2 | August 6, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Rather have two 1,000-yard rushers like the Giants than an overpaid loudmouth who gets 1,500 but fades at different points in the season. More carries for Betts for a more consistent running game.


Posted by: loux24 | August 6, 2009 12:34 PM
--------------------------------------------

yup, and I'd rather have the Giants offensive line. Do you really think Jacobs/Ward/Bradshaw would be studs behind any other line? I don't.

Posted by: jansjay | August 6, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Thought it was another blog about hittler again. Geesh !! Oh, home run hitter.

Posted by: whitepeopleareafraidtotalkaboutracialissues | August 6, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

A breakaway running back would be nice, but is not a necessity in the NFC East. Ball Control, long - time consuming drives, moving the chains, keeping your defense off the field and scoring in the red zone are keys to championship football in the NFC East. Keeping the ball out of the opposing offense hands is mandatory unless you want to have a shootout to see who can score the most. We would love to have a back who can score on a 75 yard carry. I think CP and Betts provide us with the kind of running backs we need in the NFC East as well as the NFC.

Posted by: SPUD2 | August 6, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, S. Moss will not be the only G, WR and TE to effectively block down field this year... IMO -- a lack of effective down field blocking directly resulted in the reduced YAC and fewer long runs...

Posted by: siris | August 6, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I didn't see if anybody got the trivia question earlier. It was Andrew Young to Garrett Morris. It was a skit where GM played a talk show host and AY was himself and GM had asked AY about the myth that white people are smarter than black people. It was funny because AY is pretty light skinned and GM is fairly dark. SNL has never been so good as it was with that original cast!

And to "whitepeopleareafraidtotalkaboutracialissues" - did you ever think it's because most white people don't have racial issues?

Posted by: drfunknsoul | August 6, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

This is yet another argument for getting Michael Vick into a burgundy and gold uniform.

Posted by: jack_mo_99 | August 6, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

You'll see a lot more long plays (running & passing) if Shanahan brings is offense to town next year. Portis would have crazy rushing numbers he had shut his mouth and stayed in Denver.

Posted by: coparker5 | August 6, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

BeantownGreg1, Living down here, I have a soft spot for the skins. Used to hate em, but after nearly 2 decades of mind numbing and boring 7-9 or 9-7 ball, I actualy feel bad for them. Hope they get a wild card.

Posted by: loux24 | August 6, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"Do you really think Jacobs/Ward/Bradshaw would be studs behind any other line? I don't.Posted by: jansjay"

It's an interesting point, but it's also true that the Giants had a fairly large number of runs of more than 10 yards -- a stat that generally is attributed to the work of the backs rather than the offensive line, which is already behind them. The Skins' backs, OTOH, have relatively few runs of more than ten yards, suggesting they rely more on their blocking for their yardage.

Posted by: Samson151 | August 6, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Get your money together kiddies because uncle Danny needs your cash. SUCKERS!

Posted by: shamken | August 6, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I ran a probability study once a while ago for maximum total scoring expectation comparing high percentage short yardage plays versus low percentage long plays. It turns out (for the 3 teams I analyzed), that you get a higher score expectation from more low percentage long yardage plays. The reason is to score a TD with a series of high percentage short yardage plays, you need a high number of consecutive successful plays. For the low percentage long yardage play, you only need one. The scoring difference was most pronounced for only one of the 3 teams I analyzed. The other two it was statistically insignificant.

Posted by: PriorKnowledge | August 6, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: whitepeopleareafraidtotalkaboutracialissues

HAHAHAHA. I don't think we're afraid, it's just not worth the hassle.

Posted by: jpfree | August 6, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

first, if we could line up with 3 quality WR's, not to mention 4, I THINK this would better our chances for a long run. This would get smaller D packages on the field and they would be preoccupied with pass coverage.

And B, didnt Portis get questioned about picking up the blitz over releasing into his pattern.

3 - how the heck are we gonna carry an extra RB on the roster?

Lastly, Randle El is a great PR, I think the blocking is to blame, as we lost Godfrey, torrence, that's right torrence, and probably a couple few other good STers over the last 2 years

Posted by: pabrian2003 | August 6, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Portis can still get it done but the O-Line needs to step up. It is too early to panick so lets have some patience. Lavar, is that really you.

Posted by: tywill28 | August 6, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

The Skins have three running backs with 7-8 years NFL experience. Runners comparable to Betts and Cartwright could be picked up in free agency. Granted Cartwright is valuable on special teams. Given that the Skins have few draft picks that should go to offensive line selections, they need to make a running back roster move this year, presuming Portis will last two more seasons.

Posted by: fwroy | August 6, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Blocking wasn't as important for Sproles, because his QB got the ball out quick. With the Skins, you better be able to block your A** off. JC needs all kinds of time.

Posted by: saqster | August 6, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

First of all, the Skins have no home run threat from the backfield on the run. Second of all, they have no safety valve option when Campbell is rushed hard (which will happen virtually all downs this year) like a Joe Washington, Kevin Faulk, etc. This is a another result of Vinny Servanto being better on the racketball court than on the personnel planning front.

It is like he builds a house based on the latest pretty shutters & siding, forgeting to realize that it is the foundation and siding which are the important parts. Shame on Vinny Servanto and shame on Danny boy.

Posted by: tconway | August 6, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

The very first comment says it all about our 2009 season. I'll bet CERRATO and SNYDER pay attention to the 0-line next year.

Posted by: glawrence007 | August 7, 2009 5:58 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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