When Clinton Portis talked to the media earlier today, he seemed slightly unsure of his role with the current Redskins offense, but willing to do whatever head coach Mike Shanahan and the rest of the coaches asked of him. “It’s up to them,” Portis said. “If they put me on an assignment, I do that assignment. If they don’t, there ain’t nothing I can do.”
When reporters pressed him on the question, he passed the question up the chain of command. “For these hot topics that you’re bringing up, Coach Shanahan is right upstairs,” he said.
The schedule of an NFL head coach doesn’t generally allow for people to burst in and ask a series of questions unannounced, but it does include a post-practice media availability. So when the team returned from practicing offsite (to stay out of the incessant rain), Shanahan fielded a series of Portis-related questions.
The most important quote first, even though that puts it out of sequence (and it’s spoiled in the headline of this post):
“Yes, he is starting Sunday,” Shanahan said. That was the answer to a follow-up to a question about Portis’s work ethic, which the coach also took the time to praise. “He will always give you great effort. I’ve never been around him where he hasn’t given 110%. He’s one of the most competitive individuals that I’ve ever been around.”
Shanahan also addressed the questions about Portis’s decision to go down at the end of his long run in the Rams game. Or, to be more precise, he addressed the fact that the had already privately addressed that issue. “I don’t get into my conversations with players,” Shanahan said. “Y’know, we’ve talked about that before. But I addressed it at the time, I addressed it with him and felt very comfortable with the explanation; now we go on.”
Part of that going on includes improving the running game and the red zone offense, and Shanahan addressed that as well. “First of all, it’s not time to panic,” Shanahan said. “You asked me that two weeks ago, and all of sudden we averaged over six yards a carry the next game. We’re trying to get better each week. Y’know, this is an ongoing process. It’s a coordination of a lot of different people working together. I don’t care if it’s the offensive line, tight ends, wide receivers, quarterbacks, it just doesn’t happen overnight. I thought we made some improvement, at least in the first half. Second half was a little bit different. We got behind a little bit, didn’t make some of the plays and had to go a little bit different attack. But hopefully we can keep on getting better in the running game.”
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