Coach Is Pleased With Portis's Commitment

By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Washington Redskins Coach Jim Zorn yesterday praised Clinton Portis for his commitment to the team's offseason workout program and said the running back had many reasons for participating more than in previous seasons.

Portis, 26, received a $9.3 million signing bonus in March and was guaranteed at least $15.7 million through 2010 as part of his restructured contract that helped the Redskins get under the NFL salary cap.

Although Portis, in his seventh season in the league and fifth with the Redskins, played down financial motivation for his new offseason approach and increased leadership role, Zorn said he believed money was a factor.

"I think [Portis] had a financial motivation to stay here in the offseason," he said. "I think that worked into his contract."

Zorn has been pleased with Portis's performance throughout the offseason and early in training camp but alluded to the contract several times.

"It was a forced issue for him," Zorn said of Portis. "I'm sure he would have loved to have been in Miami in the warmth and stuff, but he made some sacrifices. Partly it was extrinsic motivation that he made sacrifices. But he did it.

"And it really not only worked well for him, it worked very well for us because we're going to benefit from everything he did in this weight room during the offseason. And I think he feels it, too. He got better this offseason."

Portis, the fourth-leading rusher in franchise history, possesses the skills to produce in Zorn's version of the West Coast offense, Zorn said.

"I think he's wonderful in his lateral movement. I think he understands the game. He's very smart," he said. "He kids around a lot; he tries to get a rise out of you, if you didn't notice that.

"But what happens is, when he gets on the field, he's concentrating, and he really understands the concepts that are out there. So I really like his football awareness and his ability to see things. He's got great eyes."

Taylor, No. 55, Gets to Work

New Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor, acquired Sunday from the Miami Dolphins, participated in his first practice yesterday with the Redskins, an 8:30 a.m. workout cut short by thunderstorms at Redskins Park.

Taylor only worked "in all the individual drills," Zorn said. "He got in all his reps."

Taylor is working into football shape and figured camp would begin Friday for him, with Miami. Instead, he's here, wearing No. 55. Demetric Evans remained with the first-team defense on 11-on-11 drills as Taylor worked out.

Taylor often stood near defensive coordinator Greg Blache, listened to Blache make calls and asked questions.

"He was very compatible with his new teammates, getting to know them," Zorn said of Taylor. "I thought things went well."

Being back on the field -- however briefly due to the storm -- was old hat.

"It felt like football. I've done it long enough. It's like riding a bike," Taylor said.

Taylor said he was preparing to play more often at linebacker in Miami and is comfortable in various capacities.

Taylor wore No. 99 in Miami and said he briefly entered into negotiations with Andre Carter about obtaining No. 99 from him Monday night. After talking to his wife, Katina, Taylor decided to pick a new number.

"I decided to let 99 stay in Miami," Taylor said.

Taylor said he likes wearing double-digit numbers, and given the limitations put on certain numbers and positions, 55 was the best option. Plus, it's what he wore in the Senior Bowl. In college at Akron, he wore No. 33.

As for the change, "It'll take a while to get used to," Taylor said.

Defensive End is Re-Signed

The Redskins placed defensive ends Phillip Daniels and Alex Buzbee on injured reserve. The team also re-signed defensive end J.T. Mapu, a rookie out of the University of Tennessee. He originally joined the Redskins as a college free agent May 15 after going undrafted. He was released June 24. . . .

London Fletcher was excused from the day's practices to be with his wife for the birth of their second child; they were expecting a boy.

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