As a fan of an NFC team, I haven’t formed the same strong opinons of CBS’s game coverage as I have of FOX’s, but I will say this: Phil Simms, watching practice today in preparation for the CBS national broadcast of Friday night’s Patriots/Redskins game, was paying closer attention in practice than most of the other TV guys I’ve seen. He was making notes of line calls, formation shifts, and all sorts of other things, which not everyone does.
(He also took a real shine to the Z-shades, which made sense because the sun was blazing down today.)
Anyhow, Simms seemed to come away from today’s practice fairly impressed with the Redskins’ performance. Which was somewhat gratifying to me, as I’ve been pretty impressed with the team for the last few days as well.
And, more significantly than either of those, so has Clinton Portis.
He started by talking about Jason Campbell. “Jason’s just gotta go out and do what he can,” Portis said. “He’s gotta keep a level head, not get too high, not get too low. He’s still gotta lead this team. He’s our quarterback, and you’ve got guys out here that’s really bustin’ their butt to keep him here. You look at the offensive line play, they’ve been playing great. They’ve been keeping people off of him, [and] I think he’s got an opportunity. Now Jason’s just gotta make the plays that he knows he can make.”
And then he moved on to discuss how his performance and Campbell’s performance are intertwined. “If I’m doin’ good, of course they’re gonna stack the box and it’s gonna open up passing lanes. If he’s slingin’ the ball around and completing the ball, they gotta get out of the box and it’s gonna open up running lanes. So I think as a team, we complement each other.”
For those of you keeping score, at this point Portis had shown some love to Campbell and to his offensive line. The he kicked it into complimentary overdrive. “And you know the way guys stepping up — with Malcolm [Kelly] coming back and his confidence building and his playmaking ability, and Marko Mitchell stepping up and being the surprise, and you know what ‘Tana and Cooley are capable of, and Fred Davis addin’ — I think we’ve got the tools to get rolling. Now it’s on us to go out and get it goin’.”
This is the second time in recent memory that Portis has gone out of his way to praise Mitchell, and he wasn’t done yet. “It’s not even a surprise to me anymore. I think you realize somebody’s attitude and realize somebody’s will to compete and get better — and that’s what I see in Marko. Y’know, I think he came in under the radar, nobody knew ‘im, they was sayin’ ‘Marko,’ I didn’t know who they were talkin’ about. Now all of a sudden in every interview I do, I speak of how Marko can help this team. So I think he’s got the confidence and the playmaking ability to come help us.”
I caught up with Portis after his group media session concluded and asked him if he had expressed this confidence to Mitchell himself. He shook his head. “Nope,” he told me. “I don’t talk to rookies.”
Mitchell corroborated this. “Naw,” he said, “I haven’t talked to him off the field at all.” Which is not to say that Mitchell was unaware of Portis’s compliments. “It feels good to know that I have people like Clinton Portis, who I looked up to, and who I see as one of the best running backs in the NFL. For him to talk good about me, that’s a good thing for me.”
I thought Mitchell might wear number 84 for Randy Moss — who, of course, he’ll see on Friday — but he claims that’s not the case. “It’s a coincidence,” Mitchell said. “They gave me this number. I actually like Randy Moss, though. I never went in and tried to play my game as Randy Moss, but there’s a lot of people that have compared us. Same body frame, he’s a good vertical guy, I’m a good vertical guy. Good jumping abilities, long arms, and all that type of stuff.”
When I asked him who he had modeled his game after, Mitchell at least had learned enough about the culture of the Redskins to look slightly sheepish. “I would definitely have to say one of my favorite players in the NFL,” he said: “Terrell Owens.”
I didn’t even have to say anything to follow up; Mitchell was already explaining. “Yeah, I know. They already let me have it.”
Here’s the story: “When I was in college, I had a [website] background when he was with the Cowboys. So a couple of Redskins fans saw him on my page and they let me have it. You know, ‘You gotta change all that,’ so I changed the Cowboy thing but I left him back there, and they’re like, ‘No. T.O. gotta go. You gotta get him off there. So I had to change my whole thing with T.O. and everything.”
The story of his computer background does have a happy ending — “It’s just Redskins now,” he says. As for all the rest of it, that depends on if he can keep showing all the things that have so impressed Clinton Portis, starting again on Friday.
Tags: Clinton Portis, ClintonPortis, Marko Mitchell, MarkoMitchell
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