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Redskins Wait, Hope On Portis

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 13, 2008; Page E01

After watching running back Clinton Portis receive treatment on his injured left knee yesterday at Redskins Park, quarterback Jason Campbell expressed optimism Portis would play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field.

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"You have to think positive," Campbell said. "It's just harder if you don't."

The Redskins acknowledged things would be more difficult for them against an NFC East rival, and in their final seven games, if Portis -- the NFL's second-leading rusher -- is sidelined or slowed because of a sprained medial collateral ligament. Primary backup Ladell Betts might miss his fourth straight game because of a sprained left knee, wide receiver Santana Moss is slowly recovering from a sore hamstring and left tackle Chris Samuels still is experiencing knee pain.

Although several first-string players figure to be at less than full strength against Dallas, the Redskins must rebound on offense after their poor performance in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 3, coaches and players said, and Portis's presence could provide the difference in a turnaround or another setback.

"In this game, man, you're going to be put in situations where you're not going to have all your men at all times, guys that you depend on at all times," Moss said. "All we can do is prepare, prepare to be without [Portis], and if we get him, that's a plus for us.

"Clinton one of those guys that you never know. He can be down for the whole week and go out there and be Clinton. All we can do is just wait and see what happens, but I won't count him out until I know he's out."

Portis sat out practice yesterday and did not speak with reporters. On Monday, Coach Jim Zorn said Portis's chances of playing against Dallas were "50-50," and during his weekly appearance on John Thompson's radio show Tuesday, Portis revealed he has a second-degree sprain.

"Right now, I can't straighten it out," he said Tuesday of his left leg. "I just started bending it today. So hopefully by the end of the week. We've got five days, so hopefully I'll be ready."

The Redskins plan to hold out Portis from practice again today in an effort to maximize his time in the training room, Zorn said, and yesterday "he could straighten out his leg, so we were hip-hip-hooraying, if you will. I know it's going to be a game-time decision for him. That's pretty much a lock there."

Portis has been fitted for a knee brace, but Zorn said he could opt not to wear it should he play. "He wants to be back, and he's working hard to be back," Zorn said.

With 995 yards rushing, a five-yard average per carry and seven touchdowns, Portis has shouldered much on offense in helping Washington (6-3) remain in contention for the division title behind the first-place New York Giants (8-1). Losing Portis for even a game could affect severely the Redskins' chances of securing a postseason berth.

"Clinton is such a big part of everything we do," Campbell said. "Right now, you know that he's probably not even 60 percent. You'd take Clinton over a lot of guys at 60 percent just because of how hard he plays.


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