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Portis: 'It's An Honor' To Play With Alexander


Clinton Portis leads the NFL in rushing yards and is second in rushing touchdowns.

But he wants more.

And he thinks the addition of Shaun Alexander could help him reach a new level.

Alexander, of course, reached that elite level in 2005 with the Seattle Seahawks. In becoming the MVP that year, he rushed for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns on 370 carries. It was the ninth-highest single-season rushing total in league history.

His 28 touchdowns that season--including one receiving--set an NFL record.

"It's really an honor to play with Shaun," Portis said on Wednesday. "He's a league MVP, a guy who has had great success and set touchdown records. I want to know how you get 28 touchdowns. Who better to ask than Shaun? He did it."

Last offseason, Portis made a point to watch Alexander on film to help get a read on Jim Zorn's version of the West Coast offense. Zorn, of course, adapted his offensive system from Seattle, where he was quarterbacks coach from 2001-07.

Portis has picked up the offense pretty fast on his own, though. He has rushed for 643 yards on 136 carries, a 4.7 yards-per-carry average, and six touchdowns. He also has caught nine passes for 63 yards.

Now, when Portis has a question about the offense, he doesn't have to watch Alexander on film. He can just pull him aside on the field.

"Shaun is a guy who is going to tell you how this system works," Portis said. "He won MVP in this system, so having him on board is an opportunity for me to learn from him. He knows what the looks are.

"Prior to this season. Nobody on this team was in this system People couldn't tell you what to look for besides the coaches. But Shaun was a key figure in this offense. Having him in the running back room is going to help us out a lot."

Portis and Alexander played together in the 2003 Pro Bowl, so they already were familiar with each other personally. That was Portis's only Pro Bowl appearance. Alexander has been to the Pro Bowl three times.

Alexander joins a running backs corps that includes Portis, Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright.

Betts has a sprained knee and could be sidelined for 2-4 weeks. Cartwright serves primarily on kick returns.

Alexander is expected to spell Portis during games, at least until Betts is ready to return.

"I'm sure Shaun feels like he has a lot to bring, and I feel the same way," Portis said.

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