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Portis: 'We Want to Set the Tempo'

Clinton Portis is set to make his Redskins' regular season debut on Sunday. After two years and more than 3,000 yards rushing in Denver, Portis's presence is expected to dramatically alter the dynamics of the Redskins offense. His teammates have taken to him as well; it's not uncommon to see his offensive linemen wearing "Run Clinton Run" T-shirts. Portis spoke with after Thursday's practice:

Q: So are you ready to be turned loose in Sunday's game?

A: "We had a long preseason with five games. It's exciting and everybody's looking forward to it."

Q: Are you feeling the pressure a little bit that comes with the first game?

A: "I think we've been preparing throughout the offseason and during preseason for this game. Once you feel like you're prepared and once you feel like you've got it, there's no need to add pressure to yourself. You either have it or you don't. We've prepared well enough and the coaches have us ready to go out and perform on Sunday."

Q: Is there something special about the season opener, more so than other games?

A: "You have the chance to set the tempo. Playing in your first game, you have a chance to find out if you're for real. We have to go out and make a statement and you want to always give your best performance in a win or a loss. You want to go out and make a statement and let people know: 'We're for real and we're going to battle until the end.'"

Q: How excited are you to finally reveal the Redskins' new running attack to the rest of the league?

A: "I'm excited, but no matter how you come out of the box, you have to finish the same way. We're going to come out Sunday determined to win. If we win with the run or the pass, so be it. We have a game plan and we're going to execute our plays. I know a lot of people seem to think we're going to run the ball 50 times a game and throw it 10, but that's not realistic. No game plan is going to consist of that. I'm going to get my runs, Laveranues [Coles] is going to get his catches, Rock [Cartwright] is going to get his runs. We'll have a lot going on."

Q: How many carries would you like?

A: "You just go into a game prepared for touches. Some games, I'm not going to get the touches I want, some games I'm going to get more touches than any running back can ask for. So you just have to be prepared for anything."

Q: Do you want to be the focal point of the offense?

A: "Of course I want to be the focal point. But I'm not going to pout if I'm not the focal point every game. I'm going to try to be the focal point every game, though. Hopefully it won't happen, but once in a while, a defense is going to come up with the right game plan. All offenses don't click all 16 weeks of the season. You're going to have a bad game sometimes. I'm prepared to carry this team as far as I can, but I think we have enough players around here that somebody's going to step up."

Q: What's the toughest thing about facing Tampa's defense?

A: "You have Derrick Brooks leading the defense. That's self-explanatory with how good he is. You have Simeon Rice, too. And all the guys around them try to play to their level. It's like playing with [Ravens linebacker] Ray Lewis. He's going to pick everybody up. Once you get a guy going like that, it's hard to stop that defense."

Q: Have you had any adjustment to the Redskins' run-blocking schemes, as opposed to Denver's schemes?

A: "Not really. Blocking is blocking. People make football more complicated than it is. You can draw up all of the X's and O's that you want and you can come up with a great scheme. But at the end of the day, I have to block you, he's got to block you, and so on. And the toughest man is going to come out on top."

Q: How much pass-blocking do you expect to do in this offense?

A: "Pass-blocking mostly happens on third down. You don't want the quarterback taking shots and you want the quarterback to put you in a good position. You have to have his back. If a QB feels like you have his back, he's not standing around, moving his feet. He can stand in the pocket and find the open guy downfield. That's how big plays happen. So when it's third down, you have that challenge. It's third down and you want the offense to stay on the field. If we have to punt, I'm not on the field, so I'm doing whatever it takes for us to get that first down."

Q: Even if that means going up against Derrick Brooks for another set of downs?

A: "Actually, yes. That's the challenge you have to step up to. You don't want to be on Derrick Brooks' highlight film. You'd rather have Derrick Brooks on your highlight film. He's a great player, but you have to step up to that challenge when you step onto the field."

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