There's Room to Run for Betts and Portis

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Even with Ladell Betts compiling 100-yard games each week lately, Coach Joe Gibbs said there will be room for him and Clinton Portis in the Washington Redskins' offense next season. Betts is on the verge of his first 1,000-yard season, stepping up with Portis out for the season because of hand and shoulder surgeries.

The Redskins have reemphasized the rushing attack since Portis, who set a franchise rushing record in 2005, went down. Betts has 196 rushes for 933 yards (4.8 per carry) this season, shattering his previous highs. Betts had never previously rushed more than 90 times or gained more than 371 yards. Should he reach 100 yards again Sunday, he would match Portis's run of five straight 100-yard games last season. Still, Gibbs said he looks forward to having both healthy and together, and, given their strong relationship, he believes they can handle role-sharing.

"We feel great about those two guys carrying the ball for us," Gibbs said. "They've been great partners in the past. Clinton leads off and Ladell had a huge portion of the offense and what he's done this year has been great -- great for him and great for us.

"And certainly Clinton's our guy. He's rushed for a ton of yards for us and Ladell has a huge role for us and certainly there's room for having two good running backs and Ladell can also do a lot of other things for us. He's a heck of a receiver coming out of the backfield. He has been extremely aggressive. He's got some goals for himself in there, and I think it's showed up. He's made a real statement about himself and what he can do, and certainly that affects you as a coach."

Noise Factor in New Orleans

Although the Redskins were called for procedural penalties in Sunday's 16-10 victory over New Orleans, they actually fared relatively well considering that the Louisiana Superdome was as loud as any stadium in which they have played since Gibbs returned in 2004. The noise was piercing at key times when Washington had the ball.

Gibbs had to use a timeout early in the game at least in part because of the noise, which also caused a poor exchange between center Casey Rabach and quarterback Jason Campbell.

The inability to hear and communicate played a part in Gibbs's decision to opt for a field goal on fourth and short yardage late in the game.

"A couple of times in short yardage it really bothered us, and I think that influenced me, too, as far as going for it," Gibbs said. "When you have that happen to you, it influences you to say, 'We'd better get the points here because anything can happen on a short-yardage play if you're having that kind of trouble getting the snap.' "

Players Healthy in Win

The Redskins came out of Sunday's game with no new injuries. . . . Randy Thomas was named the Redskins' recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award. . . . Gibbs praised reserve tackle Todd Wade, who filled in nicely for Jon Jansen (torn calf muscle), calling him "super-conscientious." Jansen's status for Sunday is unclear, Gibbs said.

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