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Portis Eyes Real Prize: A 4-0 Start

Clinton Portis put up some astonishing numbers during his two years in Denver: a pair of 1,500-yard seasons and 31 touchdowns to be exact.


On Sunday, Portis returns to face the team that traded him to the Redskins last year in the deal involving Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey.

Sure, Portis would like to remind his former team that he's one of the NFL's premier running backs. But more than that, Portis would like to help keep his team's undefeated status alive and roll to 4-0.

As Portis said yesterday: "It's a special opportunity, but at the same time, we're going there to win as a team. It's not about me, it's not about Champ. It's about our teams trying to do battle and advance."

The former Miami Hurricane knows full well that last week the Broncos went into the heat of Jacksonville and played top-shelf defense in the process of registering a 20-7 win.

They did so even without Bailey, who has been slowed by a left hamstring injury. With Bailey in the lineup, the Denver defense can be even more formidable.

"They have a tough defense," Portis acknowledged. "We just have to go out, and execute our game plan. We can't let them dictate what we do offensively. If we continue to convert on third down and not make any turnovers, we'll be fine."

Looking back on the trade that sent him from Colorado to D.C., Portis insisted that he wasn't really all that shocked by the deal.

"I'm not surprised at anything that happens in this business," the 5-10, 212-pound fourth-year player said. "Look at me, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and other guys of that caliber who have switched teams.

"You would never think that Marshall Faulk would get traded from Indianapolis to St. Louis back in his prime. He was playing at a level no running back in this game was reaching, and it happened.

"Wherever you end up, you have to try to continue to be successful."

The Redskins' featured back says he harbors no resentment toward Denver, adding: "The crowd didn't trade me. This is a business. The Broncos felt they needed a defensive player. They felt they could add anyone into the running back position and get a spark.

"Reuben [Droughns] played great last year, Mike [Anderson] is playing great this year. A trade is about the team and what the team feels it needs. They didn't feel they needed me. That's not the first time I felt unwanted, so I'm alright."

Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan echoed comments from Joe Gibbs that the Portis-for-Bailey trade worked out well for both sides.

"We lost an excellent running back in Clinton Portis early in his career," Shanahan said. "He wanted to renegotiate his contract. We had a lot of success with him. I really like him as a person. Obviously, Champ has done a great job playing for us. He handles himself like a pro's pro in the way he practices every day, his leadership ability and his talent.

"I think it's a win-win situation for both teams."

On the keys to Denver's balanced offense, Portis insists it's based on two plays: "You have the stretch [run] and the [bootleg] pass. You pick your poison. If you chase the bootleg and they hand the ball off, then you're in trouble. If you chase the run and they run the bootleg, you're still in trouble."

In essence, says Portis, whose new teammates include former Denver offensive lineman Lennie Friedman: "They execute so well. They've perfected that system. That's all they run but it's hard to stop."

For all of his talents, Portis is yet to hit the end zone in 2005. That's a matter he'd like to clear up in the very near future, of course.

Another great accomplishment for Portis and the Redskins' offensive line would be for Portis to break 100 yards once again, something he hasn't done since the opener versus Chicago.

On whether this is the week he'll return to the 100-yard rushing territory, Portis said: "This is the week that we need to get a win. If we find a way to get a win without me getting 100 yards, I'm fine with that.

"This game is not about me. It's about us as a team, trying to do something that hasn't been done around here in a long time. We're trying to go 4-0."

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