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Portis Has a Chance to Join NFL Elite




Clinton Portis certainly isn't expecting anything even remotely close to an easy game Sunday when the 1-4 San Francisco 49ers visit FedExField. The Redskins outscored the 49ers 26-16 last season on Week 15 at Monster Park. It was a game in which Portis carried 35 times for 110 yards and caught three balls for 20 more.

Portis said yesterday that the Week 15 matchup from 2004 may have been the most physical game of his first season in Washington.

On the importance of this week's game against San Francisco, Portis added: "We need to have every game we play, on the road or at home. I remember from last year, San Francisco had to have been our most physical game. They were flying around and rockin' and sockin' us out there."

The Redskins' star running back said that when he came off the field he even asked some of his teammates if they had established personal beefs with San Francisco players.

Added Portis: "Even with them playing the way they played last year [2-14 overall record], that was probably the toughest, most physical game for me. This week, I don't expect it to be any different."

Through the first five games of this season, Portis has 103 carries for 443 yards (an average of 4.3 yards per carry) but has yet to find the end zone.

Although slowed by a calf injury at Kansas City, Portis is expected to play in his 50th NFL game on Sunday. The fourth-year running back could be only the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 5,000 yards in his first 50 games.

He needs 143 yards to join Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell and Jim Brown, along with former Denver great Terrell Davis, as the only NFL backs at the 5,000-yard rushing level after 50 games.

Dickerson broke the 5,000-yard barrier in his 45th NFL game. The others on the list are as follows: Campbell (46 games), Brown (48 games), Davis (50 games).

During his weekly media session on Thursday, Portis surprised everyone by wearing a bleach-white wig and dark sunglasses. He expected to face a barrage of questions about his struggle to score touchdowns, so he decided to lighten the mood a bit.

"I might as well keep a sense of humor because if I leave it up to the media, they're going to run it into the ground and drive me crazy," he said.

On the touchdown drought, he said: "The last two weeks, we haven't won, so now it's becoming a problem. When you're winning, it really doesn't matter. When you're not winning, it becomes a problem. I have to find a way to get into the end zone now."

Head coach Joe Gibbs said the Week 7 game against San Francisco is "super important to us." He went on to say that, "It's an NFC game. I look at them on film and see that they had Dallas down 21-6. They scored 31 points on Dallas. I don't know how many people can do that.

"Against St. Louis, they sacked them seven times and probably had a chance for five more. They knocked them from one end of that field to the other. I look at it as if we're getting ready to play someone who has had a week off and is rested."

After five games, Portis says, the Redskins have shown that they can spread the ball around and attack defenses on different fronts.

"Last week in Kansas City, we got behind so we were pretty much playing catch-up once the Chiefs really turned the focus to stopping Santana," Portis said. "Teams are either going to have to stop Santana or they're going to have to stop me. They're not going to be able to do both. I know my time is coming.

"Santana is playing great football. We're trying to get David Patten, Taylor [Jacobs], and James Thrash involved. Things are going to open up."

On the Redskins' touchdown distribution, Portis added: "With Santana, Mike Sellers and [Chris] Cooley all in the mix, guys really don't care who gets the touchdowns around here. We care more about just getting touchdowns as an offense. We're happy for anyone who can get in the end zone around here because we know touchdowns are hard to come by."

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