By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
In his most confident declaration yet, Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis said he would play Sunday at Houston. After playing in the opener against Minnesota, Portis was inactive against Dallas and said in an interview during the game that he had injured his rotator cuff against the Vikings.
"It wasn't that I did something to my rotator cuff. It just wasn't firing the way it was supposed to," Portis said. "Like the doctors said, it was natural after coming back from the injury I came from, playing in the game after not getting hit for four weeks, and that I was going to have soreness."
Portis also revealed indirectly that it was he -- and not Coach Joe Gibbs -- who created the confusion last week about his playing status. On Friday, Portis said being ruled out of the game was "news to him." He said he had expected to play in the game and said of his suitcase, "This bag's going to Dallas."
But yesterday Portis confirmed that Gibbs told him as early as last Wednesday that he would be out.
"It was a precautionary measure. He wanted me to be fully healed and not go through this process week in and week out," Portis said. "I knew from the start Coach really wasn't going to change his mind. On Wednesday, he told me he didn't want me to play. He wanted me to rest and get this further healed and we would shoot for the season instead of week in and week out having to miss games."
For the third time in nearly 10 days, Gibbs again clarified his position.
"If you tracked it, and said, 'This is what Joe is saying,' I think we've been right on the money. Now Clinton is going to have all kinds of things," Gibbs said. "A certain part of Clinton is a joker. He's got his own game plan. . . . I think his side of it is when he comes down to where he's not playing, he'd like the other team to think he's playing. And if he's playing, he wants them to think he's not playing. But I've told Clinton we've got to tell people exactly what the situation is, and that's what I've tried to do."A Special Play
Rock Cartwright's first career kickoff return for a touchdown was the first big play of the season for the Redskins. Trailing 17-3 with 8 minutes 41 seconds left in the first half, Cartwright took a kickoff at his goal line, ran behind the wall of Mike Sellers, Mike Pucillo and Khary Campbell. Cartwright broke toward the middle of the field at the 40, broke past place kicker Shaun Suisham and fullback Lousaka Polite at midfield and raced into the end zone.
"I don't know if there's anyone who means more to a football team than Rock Cartwright does to ours," Gibbs said. "He plays in practice. He plays special teams. He's an example of a guy who's a real Redskin."
Cartwright's touchdown was the third-longest in team history, the longest being Larry Jones's 102-yard return on Nov. 24, 1974, against Philadelphia. Brian Mitchell had a 101-yard kickoff return Dec. 6, 1998, against San Diego.
"It's a team sport, so if the team doesn't win, it really doesn't matter," Cartwright said. "It's nice to know you're capable of doing that, but we're trying to win games."Rumph Shows Promise
Events disintegrated in Dallas on Sunday night, but cornerback Mike Rumph had his best game since arriving in a trade from San Francisco. He was credited with three tackles and a pass defense, and in the first quarter, he broke up what appeared to be a sure Terrell Owens touchdown on the Cowboys' first series.
On third and goal from the eight, Dallas quarterback Drew Bledsoe fired a pass high that Owens snared. As he came down, Rumph swiped the ball away, forcing fourth down and a Dallas field goal.
"I was trying to get it out, because I knew on that type of route they were going to get it pretty high to him because he's a tall receiver and he had to come down with it, and I got it out of there."