Since 2001, cornerback Fred Smoot has been the most outgoing, enthusiastic and talkative of Redskins. This year, Smoot is likely to have some competition from one of his new teammates, running back Clinton Portis.
Portis, the running back lured from Denver in the trade involving Champ Bailey, took part in his first practice as a Redskin Friday afternoon at Redskin Park.
Afterward, he spoke about the significance of playing for a Hall of Fame coach in Joe Gibbs and what it means to be a Redskin. He also spoke, on a lighter note, about trying to convince Ifeanyi Ohalete to relinquish the jersey No. 26. For now, Portis is wearing jersey No. 3. (It is not expected to be his permanent jersey number.)
Of Gibbs, Portis said: "He has a plan to turn this organization around. As players we're just blessed to be a part of what he's trying to accomplish. He has two simple rules: Use common sense, and don't embarrass the Redskins. Any professional should be able to follow those ideas."
In his first practice session at Redskin Park, under blue skies and glorious weather, Portis donned oversized practice shorts that slipped down frequently, including in the aftermath of a collision with linebacker LaVar Arrington.
"It seems the offseason came to an end too quickly," said Portis. "But getting back to work early like this gives everyone an opportunity to get in shape and learn a new system."
It was a short time after noon on Friday that Gibbs walked on to the field and conducted his first NFL practice in 12 years. As he had explained earlier in the week, his philosophy about returning could be summed up this way: "I'm looking for players who want to be core Redskins guys."
One of those figures to be Portis, the third-year player who has a pair of 1,500-yard rushing seasons to his credit already.
"When we felt like there was an opportunity to do this trade," Gibbs said, "we immediately packed up when we were in Indy [at the scouting combine], went and got film, locked ourselves away and spent the better part of a day looking at him. We felt like he was very productive and played very tough."
Portis is expected to be a part of most all of the Redskins' offensive packages.
"I think the Broncos left him in a lot on third downs," Gibbs said. "Normally when the running back is toting the ball that much, you're looking to give him a break in there and that normally comes on third down. But I'd say this: I wouldn't have any reservations about leaving him in on third downs."
Portis was humble when asked whether he feels he's already in the prime of his career given his stunning production in just two NFL seasons.
"I'm 22 years old, and I have a lot to learn," he said. "But I've been fortunate in that I've been able to play for a couple of geniuses in coach [Mike] Shanahan at Denver and now in coach Gibbs. You learn from two great coaches and I think that will only excel my career."