Remember how fans and media members spent the last two seasons wondering why Clinton Portis perpetually ran with two hands around the ball, hunched over, and willing to pitch forward for an extra half-yard rather than attempt to break outside for a touchdown? Yeah, that was deliberate.
“I mean, for an older running back, once you’ve been in this league you get wise enough to know every carry not gonna be the big one,” Portis said Tuesday on Sirius XM’s Late Hits with MJD. “You look at a young Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson and hard they run and how tough they run, play-in, play-out. That’s the early years. You know, I can look back at my highlights, and when I touched the ball I was running just as hard and just as fast. It was all-out. But at the end of the year, you’re still pounding out 1,500-1,800 yards.
“And I think for an older back, once you get wiser you know it’s moving the chains, protecting the ball, protecting yourself, staying on the field, and staying above 4 yards [per carry], trying to keep your average up to 4 and 5. You know, you get opportunities to go out and take a chance, but you put that ball out there and put it on the ground, now you’re prone, oh, fumbleitis.”
The thing is, moving the chains but not getting points seemed not to work for the Redskins. Anyhow, Portis then launched into a discussion of his role in the offense. Apparently, it wasn’t what he might have liked it to be.
“It’s kind of hard to go into the third quarter and you’ve got 6 or 7 carries and they’re like ok we’re gonna feature you now, and you’re like ‘We’ve got 2 quarters left. What you gonna do, give me the ball every play? We’re only gonna have a good 30 plays this half.’
“So it’s kind of frustrating. And I think you’ve just got to be strong enough to keep the mentality, stay focused. And I think for myself last year, [I was] battling with just the focus. It seemed like the last two years we wanted to throw the ball, and I was the designated sixth lineman, because all I did was block. And we’re running the ball for two plays, there was somebody else jogging onto the field. It was kind of frustrating, but I never really pouted or never got down, and always tried to help Torain and Keiland Williams out, tell ‘em whatever I could just to go out and win the game.
“I think they wanted to see my attitude change and didn’t want me to be selfish. I think you’ve got to play football with a selfish mentality. You know, it’s not about me and oh rah rah and look over here, but I think you want to feel as if you’re part of the game. You know, saying Jones-Drew going to go in the game and he gonna be ok with getting 12 carries or 15 carries? For myself, when I [asked for the ball] it’s oh, he’s selfish, he think he can do everything. Then when I say ‘Ok, I’m gonna play the role you want me to play,’ it’s like well he don’t care about what’s going on. So you can’t win.
“Basically you’ve got to have a selfish mentality and a selfish attitude, and just try to do whatever’s asked of you.”
Portis also said that his practice habits had frustrated Redskins coaches as far back as 2006, when Al Saunders arrived.
“I don’t think Al Saunders system fit me,” the back said. “I think me and Al kind of clashed when he was in D.C. I’m not sure he was a big fan of mine and the practice habits, but I think so many people formed an opinion and it became practice practice practice. When I wasn’t practicing, I was coming out producing 100 yards week in and week out, and all of a sudden it turned to I give you everything during the week, and then I get banged up the last two years after practicing every day in practice.”