Portis, Fabini Are Excused From Practices

The Washington Post's Jason Reid discusses day four of OTAs at Redskins Park. Video by Jason Reid/The Washington Post
By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 6, 2008

Running back Clinton Portis was excused from the Washington Redskins' practice yesterday to attend to other matters, while tackle Jason Fabini had to leave Redskins Park before practice for a family issue. Zorn said that he expected Fabini will be back Monday but said that Portis may need some time away next week.

Neither situation was "serious," according to Zorn. Portis has drawn rave reviews for being more diligent about participating in offseason work at Redskins Park than in previous years and Zorn said the former Pro Bowl back notified him days ago of his need to leave early yesterday. Portis received his normal treatment from the training staff and attended meetings before leaving.

"What he did -- to his benefit and to our benefit -- is he came in and got his treatment," Zorn said. "He came in and listened to all the installation [of the offense] and he got his workout in, and then he had to leave. So he went over and above what I thought he was going to do."

Zorn said Fabini was "mortified" that he had to leave early, but definitely will be back for Monday morning's session. The Redskins continue their final four organized team activity (OTA) practices next week, working Monday through Thursday. The players are then off until they report for training camp July 19.

OTAs are voluntary, though participation is strongly encouraged. Cornerback Shawn Springs was the only player to miss all four sessions this week.

Rookies Are Catching On

Rookie wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly -- both taken in the second round of April's draft -- are adjusting to Zorn's offense, dealing with the mental side of the game while displaying flashes of the athleticism that led the Redskins to invest in pass catchers on the first day of the draft.

The coaching staff will be spending considerable time teaching them the routes and techniques associated with this West Coast offense, and breaking them of some of the techniques they were taught in their college offenses. Thomas, for instance, was instructed at Michigan State to take an inside release off the line and then burst upfield, while Zorn wants him to get deeper before breaking off.

During individual drills, however, they have sometimes stood out.

"When there's no pattern involved and it's just me against him, then you can see their speed, you can see their explosion and their desire to catch the ball," Zorn said.

Backs Are Catching On, Too

The precise pass routes and sure hands of running backs Portis and Ladell Betts have excited Zorn. "It's different from what I was used to in Seattle," Zorn said. "We never used to be able to run our back on a true pass route. You kind of want to go to the wide receivers, 'Do it that way.' " . . . Center Casey Rabach's massive four-wheel truck and a sign honoring him for a player of the week award from last season were planted on an elevated grassy patch at the front of Redskins Park yesterday morning, but he was coy about how it got there. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said. . . . After players struggled to grasp some concepts and had mental lapses in practices earlier this week, Zorn said he was pleased with the overall concentration yesterday.

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