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From the moment he was flat on his back, writhing in agony, it was clear that Clinton Portis's preseason was probably over just a few plays after it began. This was no ordinary bruise, no routine shoulder stinger, and the concern was apparent along the Redskins' sideline.

Quarterback Mark Brunell, whose sloppy pass resulted in an interception and Portis's subsequent tackle of Cincinnati defensive back Keiwan Ratliff, was headed off the field, when he saw - or heard - Portis, and immediately backtracked to the runner's side. All available team doctors were immediately looking at Portis's left shoulder once he got to his feet, and in no time at all he was whisked away for X-rays.

As the minutes passed, and updates of other injured players became available but not Portis, you could sense it was something at least somewhat serious. Then came an announcement in the press box that X-Rays were negative ... but an MRI was being conducted right away. Finally, probably at least an hour after Portis first hit the turf, came the word that Portis had a subluxation of his shoulder, which, after a consulting a few on-line medical dictionaries, we figured out meant a partially dislocated shoulder. He left Redskins Park for more testing this afternoon, and further results are not yet available. I'll let you know when anything becomes available.

From what we learned Sunday night, the ball-and-socket in his shoulder had slipped out of place (then back in), and, while there are other means of immediate rehab other than surgery, Portis's body language, and verbal language, told a long story. He seemed convinced that this would be an issue throughout the regular season, and, as a smaller back who plays with extreme aggression in taking on massive blockers, he's probably right. He'll be playing in some degree of pain or discomfort from his first regular season snap, and the inevitable pounding of his body will take a toll.

Portis runs low to the ground and takes a substantial number of hits off his shoulders, which has resulted in many stingers in the past. He is a focal point of Washington's offense - and thus every opposing defensive coach's game plan against the Redskins - and expects to be targeted by linebackers. Getting that shoulder as tight and strong as it should be seems unlikely during the season, and it could very well pop out again.

Given his toughness, Portis could still be a very productive player in this system despite it all, but he's also taken a real pounding in four NFL seasons, and has 695 carries in two years in Washington after rushing 563 in two seasons in Denver. That's a substantial increase.

Add in the fact that second-string back Ladell Betts is frequently nicked up, and is currently hampered by a hamstring injury, prospect Kerry Carter is out for the year after shredding his knee Sunday night, and up-and-comer Jesse Lumsden has a has a hip flexor, and suddenly there's only Rock Cartwright and fullbacks Mike Sellers and Nehemiah Broughton in the backfield.

I found some of the recent speculation about Betts being traded kind of funny - I couldn't see a team with Super Bowl ambition dealing a valuable asset like that now, weeks before the season with so few other options around - and Portis's injury makes it all the more clear why. My feeling all along was that the defense would again be the hallmark of the Redskins - I see the D scoring a lot more points this season off sacks and turnovers, too - and without a healthy Portis, I feel even more strongly about it.

It is going to take some time for the offensive players to catch on to Al Saunders's system, anyway, and while I anticipate progress on that side of the ball, I don't see it being in the top three of the NFL right away. The defense, I believe, is already that good, and will carry a large share of the load, again. After just one meaningless game, the pressure on that unit may have already increased.


I hope to show Cooley a printout of our finalists from the Redskins' chant contest Tuesday, so I should have a winner for you all sometime soon ... Saw my first mega church along the side of I-75 going from Cincy to Dayton for our flight back to DC this morning. It looked like a campus or compound, with this massive, ornate statute of a religious figure rising from the ground with arms outstretched. It must have spanned 50-60 feet above the highway, and was surrounded by this fancy fountain. Looked like thousands of people could fit in that church/arena on Sunday, and, judging by the architecture, they must be doing okay when the collection baskets get passed around ... Linebacker Chris Clemons says he'll be out at least 4-to-6 weeks with a tear in his left knee ... If Jesse Lumsden doesn't find a way to shake off his hip injury and get back on the field soon, I'd be shocked. He already was showing signs of forcing his way on the roster, and the Skins might keep an extra back around now with Portis and Betts not 100 percent ... Another un-drafted free agent, receiver Mike Espy, showed well again Sunday, too. I have a feeling he'll stick around, if even just on the practice squad ... Jason Campbell looked solid, albeit again a scrub defense, but that last pass - an easy interception - showed his youth and inexperience. Still, he looked a heck of a lot better than veteran Todd Collins. Yikes. Redskins Nation must be hoping that performance was due to nerves in Collins's first game with Washington. He struggled mightily.

Sorry about the late posting; travel was a pain and kept me off-line. I'll have more for you guys when we get some medical update.


By Jason La Canfora  |  August 14, 2006; 4:04 PM ET
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The ornate statue you are referring to is better known as Touchdown Jesus in these parts! Google it, there are a lot of funny sites on the net dedicated soley to it.

Blog is great!

Posted by: Skins Fan in Cincy | August 14, 2006 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I guess now is as good a time as any to over-react a bit.

The start to this season already has me waiting for next year, even if just a little bit. I still think they're one of the top three or four teams in the NFC, at least on paper. However, the O-line,
QB, and now RB questions may be too loud to ignore in the hope of a Superbowl run this year. I suspect Campbell will be given a chance as an injury replacement at some point this year, as will Betts.

Even at 11-5 and a fall just short of the Superbowl I'd likely be pretty happy, especially if they're plugging leaks all year. The icing on the cake will naturally be when the Cowboys implode around mid-season.

Posted by: Jim | August 14, 2006 6:18 PM | Report abuse least the pressure to have a winning season is off. There is always next year...agin.

Posted by: Well | August 14, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Do you people realize this is ONE PARTIALLY-SEPARATED SHOULDER??? Give me a break... literally and figuratively. Give me a break, or a torn ligament, and maybe I'll start worrying. But partially separated shoulders aint going to ruin this season for the Redskins, boys and girls...


from what I saw from our first string Defense last night, I think we are poised to make a super bowl run. -9 yards in 9 plays, are you f'ing kidding me???

Posted by: relax fairweathers | August 14, 2006 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Typical 'Skins fan overreaction. I'll bet there was a run on cement shoes this morning. Back in '91 they wanted to can Gibbs after the pre-season. In '99 they thought they won a Lombardi after Snyder bought half the available Fantasy vets during the offseason. Two years ago, the return of St. Joe was supposed to portend a fourth Championship.

This is a really good team with a number of question marks. The same can be said of no less than 10 teams in the NFC. Hell, they're optimistic in ***Arizona***!!! Arizona!

It's impossible to predict these games, so quit worrying about the future. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. If the season turns out to be a turkey, we'll always have the Cooley News Network to help us heal.

Posted by: P Diddy | August 14, 2006 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Diddy? You're a Redskins fan? Cool.

Seriously though, you're right. I'm not going to jump off the top of the Washington Monument over this, but I think it's fair to be concerned.

The main worry I have is that I won't find a place to watch the games when I move to FL next month.

Posted by: Jim | August 15, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I am - admittedly - a relatively *new* football fan (consider following the Redskins for 4 years, but having no football knowledge before that). So when I ran up to my friend, outraged, waving a newspaper article in his face about the Skins signing a 34-year old "veteran" who hadn't started a game in 8 years, he quietly explained to me that Todd Collins knows the system of the new offensive coordinator, and don't worry, he'll be fine, it was a good get.
After Sunday, I'm thinking my gut was right.
I don't care how well he knows the system - he's useless as a backup QB if he can't execute it.
I've seen Brunell do good things on the field - I've seen him do not-so-good things. I don't see how a team can dream of making it to the Superbowl without a solid back up for a 36-year old QB.
Like I said - I'm a relative newbie, so please feel free to quell my concerns and explain to me why Collins was a good move.

Posted by: jessie | August 15, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

It's killing me the Portis got injured -- and while it's not season-ending, Jason is right, it's probably going to affect his running all season -- but how MONEY was that hit?! I used to hate Miami players, but I'm beginning to think that Larry Coker has even the back-up quarterbacks doing Oklahoma drills in practice.

Posted by: OD | August 15, 2006 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Jim soon to be in FL...plenty of places to watch the skins on the south east coast..sports bars abound and will find many loyal hogs/hogettes!!

Portis'injury is trouble...considering the # of hits he'll take and dish I expect him to be less than 100% most of the year.

Of greater concern to me is defense, particularly the secondary now that Springs is hurt. The linebacking corps are thin as well with the injury to Clemons.
Of course I have yet to hear a good explanation for getting rid of Arrington, though it sounds like a power struggle and G. Williams got his wish.
Finally, Todd Collins should be holding a clipboard instead of holding the back up QB
spot. If/when Brunnel goes down it's gonna be scary!

Posted by: cosmo | August 15, 2006 8:53 PM | Report abuse

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