By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 9, 2007
Running back Clinton Portis went back into character yesterday in an attempt to inspire the Washington Redskins as he did during their late-season run to the playoffs in 2005, wearing a multicolored shirt, oversize glasses and a braided wig and introducing reporters to "Choo-Choo," a dance instructor who is encouraging players to have fun.
In the 2005-06 season, Portis wore a different costume each week to his Thursday group sessions with reporters. The Redskins won their final five games to earn an NFC playoff berth, defeated Tampa Bay in the wild-card round and lost to Seattle in the divisional playoffs.
After practice yesterday, Portis returned to the clubhouse through a side entrance and reemerged as Choo-Choo. Characters and costumes aside, though, the Redskins said Portis's most inspirational work occurred Sunday when he had a season-high 196 yards rushing in a 23-20 overtime victory over the New York Jets at Giants Stadium.
Washington had 296 yards rushing -- it was the third-highest total in team history -- while overcoming a 14-point deficit in the second quarter, and Portis's determination set the tone for the rally, players said.
"Clinton wore stuff like that in '05 when we made our run, and I'm fine with it because Clinton is just having fun, but everybody knows Clinton is about business on the football field," defensive lineman Phillip Daniels said. "Clinton did a great job for us running the way he did the last game, and he always does whatever he can to help this football team win. Clinton is just one of those guys who always has fun, and you can't blame a guy for having fun when he works as hard as Clinton does."
Portis's running -- not his outfits -- will be among the keys down the stretch again, wide receiver Santana Moss said.
"Everybody knows how important Clinton Portis is to this team," Moss said. "You just look at what he does for our team."
Portis wants to lead the way in Washington's final eight games.
"I want to go out and carry this team. Given the opportunity that's what I want to do," said Portis, who leads Washington in rushing with 629 yards in 151 carries (a 4.2-yard average) and six touchdowns.
"I feel good. I took every rep in practice Wednesday and Thursday. I feel good to get that opportunity [against the Jets] and to come out of the game healthy."Receivers Hurting
Starting wide receivers Moss (heel) and Antwaan Randle El (hamstring) did not practice.
"I went out there and did a little something, I didn't go full," Moss said. "It's sore. I'm just not going to beat it up in practice."
Said Randle El: "I'm okay. It'll be fine."
Cornerback Fred Smoot also didn't practice.Washington Feels Better
Linebacker Marcus Washington, who has missed three of the last four games because of a hamstring injury, increased his workload in practice. "I did a little more today and I felt pretty good," Washington said. "We'll just kind of keep progressing, doing a little more every day, and see where I'm at in the next couple of days." . . . Defensive lineman Cornelius Griffin (back) returned to practice. Griffin, who was in on only two plays against the Jets, said he is day-to-day.