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Redskins' Offense: Back In the Running?




They ran for 103 yards versus Minnesota and 90 at Dallas, both of which are unspectacular figures. Still, the Redskins may return to putting an emphasis on their ground game on Week 3 at Houston.

Al Saunders, associate head coach in charge of the offense, says his team knows the value of a productive running attack.

Says Saunders: "It's important. When people can play an umbrella coverage and the front seven can take away your running game effectively, it complicates everything.

"You would like to force a team to bring an extra defender into the box so you can get some one-on-one routes on the outside. We haven't been able to do that as well as we would like."

In order words, an effective running game is what makes the passing game go. The Redskins have had little of either in their 0-2 start.

Said Saunders: "It's frustrating for the players, coaches, fans and everybody who follows the Redskins. We know we have a lot of work to do. We're going to get this thing fixed."

Certainly the return of Clinton Portis would give the offense a boost. Portis is listed as probable for Sunday's game and he appears recovered from his shoulder injury.

On Portis's return, Saunders said: "You always like to have your best players available, but still we should be better than we were the last two games."

Last year in the regular season, Portis contributed 1,732 yards--1,516 on the ground and 216 on pass receptions.

Houston first-year head coach Gary Kubiak was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks in Denver in 2002 when the Broncos drafted Portis in the second round. He responded with 1,508 yards as an NFL rookie.

In their first two games, versus Philadelphia and Indianapolis, the 0-2 Texans fell by scores of 24-10 and 43-24. The Eagles and the Colts aren't noted for their running attacks.

When they went 2-14 last year under Dom Capers, Houston gave up an average of 143 rushing yards per game and 21 rushing touchdowns on the season. The Texans ranked 32nd against the rush; in their first two games of 2006, they've given up 127 yards per game on the ground.

When Saunders was at Kansas City in 2005, the Chiefs outscored Houston 45-17. Larry Johnson carried 36 times for 211 yards and two TDs.

In 2002, in the only other meeting between the Redskins and Texans, Washington won 26-10 at FedExField. Both Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson had 100-yard afternoons.

Although Saunders stressed Wednesday the importance of establishing a running attack, he also said he maintains confidence in Mark Brunell running the offense.

Said Saunders: "We have to help him and the people around him have to help him. Everybody has to do a better job. There is a learning curve. We learn about each other every day."

On Week 3 at Houston, the Redskins may--for better or worse--learn a great deal more about their running game.

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