Redskins' Clinton Portis will return to the field to face the Titans

The Washington Post's panel of football insiders preview the upcoming Redskins game at Tennessee.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 20, 2010; 2:59 AM

In the the past five games without Clinton Portis in the backfield, the Washington Redskins' running game showed few signs of a fall-off in terms of yardage. The team averaged just four fewer yards per game than they did when Portis was healthy and in the lineup for the first four games of the season.

But his absence has certainly been felt in other ways. For example, in Portis's four starts, the Redskins allowed six sacks, an average of 11/2 per game. In the five games without him, they've allowed 19 sacks, an average of nearly four per game.

"You've got a guy with a lot of experience. We know what type of blocker he is. If he can come back full speed, he adds a lot to our offense," Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's got a lot of confidence, knows the system, knows defenses. He's got a little bit of a swagger to him that you like on the football field."

Shanahan will welcome Portis back to the lineup Sunday in Tennessee. The groin injury that has kept Portis on the sidelines since the Oct. 3 win at Philadelphia is finally healthy enough for the ninth-year running back to return to the field.

"It's exciting to be back," Portis said. "I felt good."

Shanahan said following practice Friday that Portis was able to test his groin this week and is healthy enough to play against the Titans, who rank 11th in the NFL against the run this season. Fellow running back Ryan Torain, however, has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Titans because of a hamstring injury.

After Portis injured his groin last month, coaches estimated he would miss four to six weeks. Portis missed five games and the team's bye week but was able to participate in practices this week.

"If we didn't feel good about him, we wouldn't play him," Shanahan said. "He looked like he'd be good to go. . . . He's had a good couple days of practice. Hopefully, there's no setback."

Portis, who also missed the final eight games of the 2009 season because of a concussion, has 195 yards on 49 carries this season, an average of four yards per carry. He has two rushing touchdowns in four games.

Shanahan wouldn't discuss Portis's exact role Sunday against the Titans.

"I'm not going to go into detail about workload we'll give him, but he's going to play in the game," Shanahan said.

If Portis can't handle the full load, Torain will not be an option. Torain started four games in Portis's place and had 391 yards and three touchdowns on 91 carries. He topped 100 yards in two of his four starts before injuring his hamstring in the Oct. 31 loss at Detroit.

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