It is a common perception that running back Clinton Portis will be the focal point of the Washington Redskins' attack, but the third-year player said he believes the offense will feature a fair degree of balance. Coach Joe Gibbs is a strong proponent of grinding the ball on the ground, and Portis stands to get a substantial number of carries each week, although he says he is content with taking a smaller role at times if it means the team is winning.
"If people think we're going to run the ball 70 times and throw it 10, that's not realistic," Portis said. "No game plan is going to consist of that. I'm going to get my runs, L.C. [wide receiver Laveranues Coles] is going to get his catches, [wide receiver] Rod [Gardner] is going to get his catches and we're going to have a lot of things going on."
Portis, who ran for more than 1,500 yards in each of the last two seasons while playing in Denver, said he is not entering Sunday's opening game against Tampa Bay at FedEx Field with any set number of carries in mind and expects the ratio of runs to passes to fluctuate depending on the strengths of the opponent and various matchups. "You just have to be prepared for whatever," he said. "Some games I'm not going to get the touches that I want; some games I'm going to get more touches than any running back can ask for."
The Redskins acquired Portis from the Broncos for Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey and a draft pick and covet Portis's game-breaking speed and elusiveness. On Sunday, he will face a defense with a long-standing reputation as one of the most stout against the run. Portis will run behind an offensive line with great potential but which struggled last season.
"Of course I want to be the focal point," Portis said. "But I'm not going to pout if I'm not the man every game."
Tampa Bay's defense has long been considered among the best, something the Redskins aspire to be. Their defense was completely overhauled under Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, and this will be the first chance for the players to execute those aggressive packages and see how they compare to a unit like the Bucs'.
Washington will blitz multiple players Sunday, work hard to get after quarterback Brad Johnson and is expected to unveil new tactics that Gibbs kept under wraps in the preseason.
"We ain't really show nothing in preseason," cornerback Fred Smoot said. "We showed you all one thing -- one counter blitz [against Atlanta last week] -- and that was about it. Everything else was real vanilla. So I'm really eager to show what we really got up here and learned all these months." . . .
The Redskins made no changes to their injury list yesterday. Williams said linebacker Mike Barrow (knee) could be able to play in some packages Sunday, but is all but certain not to start (Antonio Pierce would do so). H-back Brian Kozlowski (calf) and safety Andre Lott (knee strain) are probable. The Buccaneers are reporting no injuries.