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Portis: 'I Don't Have To Do This By Myself'


Washington is a tough town for Clintons, be they Bill, Hillary or Portis.

The latter in that group practiced no politics on Sunday as the Redskins concluded their three-day voluntary minicamp. He said he felt fine, looked forward to being part of a backfield augmented by two free-agent pickups and would once again show himself to be a top performer.

Clinton Portis missed the final eight games last season with a concussion and was the subject of much scrutiny over his practice habits and conditioning before that injury in the loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He didn't much like the critiques.

"I'm tired of proving myself," the Redskins' second all-time leading rusher said as the club concluded its first voluntary minicamp. "You get wrote off so quick."

Knocked out in the eighth game, Portis was still on roughly a 1,000-yard pace and averaged 4.0 yards a carry in a disappointing 2009 season. He finished with 494 yards, the fewest of his eight-year career, and scored only one rushing touchdown.

At 29, Portis will be part of a backfield that also includes veterans Larry Johnson and Willie Parker, who are accustomed to heavy workloads.

Can they all get enough carries to find a rhythm and thrive?

"We'll find a way to make it work," Portis said.

Nor does he see this as a scenario in which he is fighting for a job.

"I don't," he said. "All my career I've been in this situation. I think it will bring out the best in me."

When the Denver Broncos (and Mike Shanahan) drafted him in 2002, the Broncos had other running backs – Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson – ahead of Portis on the depth chart. But he churned for 3,099 yards and 29 rushing touchdowns in his first two seasons before the Broncos traded him to the Redskins.

While has never averaged close to the 5.5 yards per carry here that he did in Denver, Portis often carried the Redskins simply by dint of his Sunday workload.

In six years with the Redskins he rushed the ball more than 300 times in every one but the two in which injuries limited him to half the games. He has racked up 6,597 yards for the Redskins, behind only John Riggins (7,472).

Being reunited with Shanahan, Portis said, makes football "fun" again. He has missed only one of the off-season conditioning workouts, and that was for a medical appointment.

He knows he will earn what he gets. As Shanahan put it as he considered Portis, Johnson (twice a 1,750-yard rusher for the Kansas City Chiefs) and Parker (three 1,000-yard seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers), "Who gets it done? It doesn't matter if it's one guy or three."

Can a workhorse (or three?) go part-time? Perhaps. Portis seems open to the idea that he need not put the team on his back for it to win.

"I don't have to do this by myself," he said. "I finally have the luxury of three-back system. We'll always be fresh."

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