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Zorn Works on Roles for Portis, Betts

Though the Redskins are loath to express public concern about the workload of featured running back Clinton Portis, there is much discussion internally about how to best spell Portis -- both during games and during the season -- so that he can be productive without wearing down. To that end, backup Ladell Betts, who has been in the league exactly as long as Portis, has been told he will play more.

"This is training camp, and anything can happen, so I'm not taking my job lightly, like it's just mine," Betts said last week. "But I approach it as if it's mine, and I prepare myself to be the starter. I have been told that hopefully I'll be able to play more, third-down situations. We'll see."

Coach Jim Zorn said he is still working out the formula for which Betts will be used, but there are indications that he could be inserted in almost every third-down passing situation. Betts caught 53 balls in 2006 -- when he became the starter when Portis lost nearly half the season to injury -- and he has averaged 4.1 yards per carry during his eight-year career.

"He was a second-round draft pick for a reason," offensive coordinator Sherman Smith said. "He can play. I think he deserves to play. I think we need him to play. No team is doing it in this league with one guy. You got to have two guys for sure."

Both Zorn, who calls the plays, and Smith, who oversees the running game, said they will communicate to both Portis and Betts exactly how each will be used before the season starts.

"There's going to be flexibility in that, and part of it will be how much Clinton can realy go," Zorn said. "Part of it will be is how ready -- and I don't have any problem with it -- how ready is Ladell going to be. I think he's ready. He's pushing hard in this training camp already."

Betts missed three games in the middle of last season with a knee injury, prompting the team to sign former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander. Betts -- who gained 206 yards on only 61 carries last year, compared to 342 attempts for Portis -- said he wasn't fully explosive when he returned from the injury.

"It was tough to play like that," Betts said. "I feel like I'm back now. When you hurt a knee like that, I didn't have the same agility. I didn't have the same confidence in it. That's no excuse. It's just the reality of the situation."

Betts turns 30 later this month, so he's almost exactly two years older than Portis. But he has only 720 career carries, compared to 2,052 for Portis. He said his experience from 2006, when he gained 1,154 yards with a 4.7-yard average, still gives him confidence that he could do the job today, if needed or asked.

"I know I can do it," Betts said. "At times, I'm sure there's some doubters out there that probably think that was two seasons ago. But there's no doubt in my mind I can do it and probably do it better than I did that year, so I'm confident right now."

By Barry Svrluga  |  August 3, 2009; 2:49 PM ET
 
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Comments

You gotta wonder how productive (and healthy) either back will be with this offensive line......

Posted by: jive_turkey | August 3, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully they both stay healthy cause I don't have much faith in the guys behind them, not even Mason. *Gasp*

Any word on how the two rookie LB's, Glenn and Henson are doing?

Posted by: skinswest | August 3, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Should injection be concerning?

By Ryan O'Halloran on Aug. 3, 2009 into Redskins

Today's lone practice at Redskin Park is about two hours away and it will be another hot one down in the furnace that is the Redskins' four practice fields.

One note of interest yesterday was Jim Zorn revealing that DT Albert Haynesworth had a Synvisc injection in his left knee.

Haynesworth has participated in four full practices and just gone through individual work in two others.

Zorn called the injection "a normal thing."

But shouldn't this be a red flag?

In his six years as a starter, Haynesworth has played 12, 10, 14, 11, 13 and 14 games. The early over-under amongst us media-folk is 12 games this year.

Doing a quick search last night of what a Synvisc injection entails changed my view on how this shouldn't be considered a normal thing.

One search said: "Synvisc is injected directly into the knee joint to restore the cushioning and lubricating properties of normal joint fluid. Synvisc injections are approved for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in those who have failed to respond to more conservative therapy."

Yikes.

Haynesworth is expected to practice today but this will require season-long monitoring.

*Huge loss for the Philadelphia Eagles today. MLB Stewart Bradley tore his ACL and is out for the year. The Eagles are already trying to figure out how to replace S Brian Dawkins (signed with Denver) and now Bradley is done. Not a great start for new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

Ryan O'Halloran


http://www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/redskins/2009/aug/03/should-injection-be-concerning/

Posted by: 4thFloor | August 3, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if we will try and scrounge around for another OL??

Posted by: mhartz1 | August 3, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I, for on, am glad that Betts is still on this team. Let's hope he is our Michael Turner with Portis playing the role of Tomlinson except we keep him instead of letting him go to Atlanta who by the way has no chance of winning 13 games with their much tougher schedule this year Alex.

How'd I do Cork?

Posted by: isnadd | August 3, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

If Mike Williams can go from 450 lbs to 340 lbs, can Betts bulk up to 340 lbs and take a crack at RT?

Posted by: Alan4 | August 3, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

All in good fun CL. I had a blast with you and Nate. We need to get together again this year for drinks. OK drinks for you guys and water for me. lol

Posted by: jm220 | August 3, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Portis can't be griddy, Betts have to be fully involved this season.

Posted by: abxinc | August 3, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

STEENKING BEEPS....

A great quote from Albert Haynesworth:
"Don't talk to me before the game, don't talk to me during the game. I'll talk to you after the game."

Posted by: abxinc |

He’s a regular Norman Einstein

Posted by: TheCork | August 3, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

---

Davis can't even earn his way onto the field in a 28th ranked offense. What makes anyone think he can notch a 2nd round pick?

Posted by: Alan4

Um, Greater Fool Theory?

Posted by: TheCork |

Posted by: TheCork | August 3, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

need to more than double up on the number of carries for betts from last year.

more betts will mean a fresher, more rested Portis.

Same holds true with AH. He needs to get spelled a lot, KG, and AMonty will benefit from this......coming in fresh against a guy who is beat up....

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 3, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

the odds were, on drafting Thomas and Kelly, a bit better than 50/50 that one or the other would be a solid NFL WR. The odd on both succeeding were about 1/10. Draft 2 guys, get 1 -- makes sense (unless of course, instead of drafting 2, you trade for Boldin or Housh ... in which case your chances of getting a stud WR were right around 100%).

If Roydell and ARE are both 500 yard+ guys plus Moss stays healthy, our WR corp is fine, with or without Thomas, Kelly, Eloi and so forth.

Posted by: zcezcest1

oh yes, good catch and post, 4th -- Albert's injection = normal? Really?

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 3, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

If Snyderatto had not panicked and grabbed for Taylor--reversing a build-thru-the-draft philosophy, he might even have a Right tackle this year.

Posted by: TheCork | August 3, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse


That 2nd Round pick would have been packaged for Sanchez. The JT/Exploding Calf experiment actually saved the Skins from starting over AGAIN with a QB as interested in GQ spreads as he is in learning a spread offense. And some other team blog would be buzzing with Orakpo-Maniacal thoughts of the League's top rated defense.

Posted by: SoCal_SkinsFan | August 3, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Sellers is still a beast. Keep in mind he is a full back, a pro bowl one at that not a TE, i dont know why people would rag on him he has one boneheaded play one the goal line and now hes garbage?
I bet if you asked CP26 who the most important players are on the team Sellers would be near the top of that list. He does wonders for our run game.

Posted by: Stu27 | August 3, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Stu27 | August 3, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Albert's injection = normal? Really?

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 3, 2009 3:09 PM

I guess I understand why he only plays 60% of the snaps and only 3/4ths of the games. He's the one we don't play in unimportant games every season and take out in the 4th QTR when the game is in hand...

Posted by: 4thFloor | August 3, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

In honor of Rickey Henderson and his recent HOF induction AND number retiring by the Oakland A's, Zeke will speak of himself in the 3rd party for this post.

Zeke still believes that having Portis be the feature back 12 games and Betts the feature back 4 games will be the optimal way to use the RBs. Zeke, humbly borrowing lines from Rickey's recent speeches, also wishes to say that Zeke is very (echo) very (echo) very (echo) very (echo) very (echo) humble.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 3, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

RE: Haynesworth's injections.

I wouldn't worry too much whether they're "normal" or not.

Hey, Barry Bonds took some "abnormal" treatment, too. Yeah, his head swelled up to twice its normal size, but other than that....

Posted by: Alan4 | August 3, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

...Atlanta who by the way has no chance of winning 13 games with their much tougher schedule this year Alex....

How'd I do Cork?

Posted by: isnadd | August 3, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Hey that kind of stuff happens when you do a full year game by game guess, you look at each game on paper and say who should win. Most games when looked at that way are not a gamble. I would be happy to see what other people come out with on a full season breakdown.

Posted by: alex35332 | August 3, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

If Mike Williams can go from 450 lbs to 340 lbs, can Betts bulk up to 340 lbs and take a crack at RT?

Posted by: Alan4 | August 3, 2009 3:03 PM

Sounds like logic from a mental patient.

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

z, what if we just reduced the number of carries portis has per game, and increased the number of carries that betts has per game, you know properly utilizing them, and all......if you sit portis for 4 games, he's gonna get rusty, not to mention that just seems foolish as well.

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 3, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

abxinc = fun police.

I suspect you know exactly what you're taking about when it comes to mental patients, but you shouldn't love your mom any less for her disability. After all, she raised you.

Truth be told, Pro Bowl OT Jason Peters converted from a TE, bulking up to 340 lbs.... granted, he was already pretty close to that weight as TE. But you should learn to recognize a joke, even a bad one.

Posted by: Alan4 | August 3, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

z, what if we just reduced the number of carries portis has per game, and increased the number of carries that betts has per game, you know properly utilizing them, and all......if you sit portis for 4 games, he's gonna get rusty, not to mention that just seems foolish as well.

Posted by: BeantownGreg1

not saying sit Portis for 4 games, just have him as the #2 back in those games. I think RBs tend to get into rhythms during a game and I'd like to preserve that. If Portis has 4 games where he carries the ball 5-10 times, he'll be stronger at the end of the season. A few games where Portis doesn't get beat up much will help a lot. Plus, getting Betts into a groove with 20+ carries is a good thing

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 3, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I hate that "third-down" back thing.

I say, why not get a first down on second down, then you don't need a third down back? Problem solved.

Seriously, CP ought to start and get 10-15 plays, then Betts for a series or two. Don't let either guy have more than about 8 plays without a rest. And let both know that inside the 10, they get 2 plays before a sub.

Posted by: dpc2003 | August 3, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see us spread out the runs between the backs more.

Maybe 50% Portis 30% Betts and 20% whoever we use for 3rd back.

Posted by: alex35332 | August 3, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Zeke's earlier 3rd person parody is based on Rickey Henderson's parody of Rickey's 3rd person comments ... at about the 5 minute mark.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090801&content_id=6194636&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 3, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Betts is nasty when healthy and behind an amazing O-line (second half of 06), but he has no nose for the goal line whatsoever (remember the Giants' 0-2 goal line stand? The one that turned around their season and led them on the way to Super Bowl XLI? Yeah...that was Betts) and a tendency to fumble at the worst possible times.

Seriously, Betts is there to keep Portis healthy but let's not delude ourselves, he's a B-list back at best--he may be a very good one, but way too risky to take much time from Portis...

Posted by: Crunkenstein | August 3, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

*Make that super bowl XLII...

Posted by: Crunkenstein | August 3, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Say the Skins run 30 rushes a game. 480 per year. We know the boogeyman number is 370 carries in a year and we'd like to stay far away from that. Say Portis at 300-320 carries. Assuming all the rest are Betts that 160-180 for Betts. So how do you split them?

Method 1: Simply distribute evenly game to game.
Portis gets 18-20 carries, Betts 10-12 carries

Method 2: Split the feature back games, 12 feature games for Portis, 4 for Betts
Feature back: 23-25 carries, backup back: 5-7 carries

I think plan 2 would be more effective. The 'sharing' carries can work from time to time (Stewart and D. Williams in Carolina), but more often than not, you get less than the sum of the parts.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 3, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Beep

Posted by: isnadd | August 3, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"...and 20% whoever we use for 3rd back."


*With the Eartha Kitt voice*

Marrrrrrrrrrcussss Mason...

The Mason persuasion is fully back in effect.

No hatin' on Mason!

Posted by: RedDMV | August 3, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

abxinc = fun police.

I suspect you know exactly what you're taking about when it comes to mental patients, but you shouldn't love your mom any less for her disability. After all, she raised you.

Truth be told, Pro Bowl OT Jason Peters converted from a TE, bulking up to 340 lbs.... granted, he was already pretty close to that weight as TE. But you should learn to recognize a joke, even a bad one.

Posted by: Alan4 | August 3, 2009 3:32 PM

My goal is to hit your nerves, and get you
off your delusional state and be focused on reality and not pathetic joke; mission
accomplished.

Posted by: abxinc | August 3, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Only thing I worry about is Betts' ability to block and protect Campbell on third down passing situations. Portis might be the finest blocking RB in the league, so he has value in the game on passing downs.

Posted by: CDon | August 3, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

The last 2 years betts has done nothing.
And there is no way he can pass protect.

Posted by: jmy999 | August 3, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Betts isn't very good. If he were, the Skins would have had him in games much earlier. He's being discussed now only because Portis broke down last year. He's a liability in blocking, and not fast enough to be a game changer,or big enough to wear down opponents. A classic tweener that was really good in college, and really milk toast in the NFL>

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 3, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Betts fumbles the ball in clutch situations.

Posted by: BMACattack | August 3, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

The reservations I have about Betts are, is that he has to have great blocking up front,(Portis has better vision and can find a seam), he has no elusiveness, as another poster stated he has no nose for the endzone, and he does have a tendency to fumble with the game on the line.

Betts does run north and south and he runs hard, and he appears to catch better than Portis out of the backfield.

Even though Betts has a lot less carries than Portis, both of these guys are getting up there when it comes to being a running back. This team needs to find an explosive 3rd option at running back, someone with some younger, fresher legs. Can it be Aldridge or Dorsey?
I don't know, but it would be nice to have a home run hitter at tailback in addition to our chain movers and redzone options in Portis and Betts.

Posted by: 72Redskins | August 3, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

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