Clinton Portis Could Be Biggest Winner In Shanahan’s Training Camp

ASHBURN, VA - JULY 29: Running back Clinton Portis  of the Washington Redskins carries the ball during drills on the first day of training camp July 29, 2010 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Mark Schlereth told us to expect Mike Shanahan to run crisp, up-tempo “full go” practices and reports of the first weekend of the Washington Redskins training camp bears him out.

An AP story by Joseph White says Redskins players see Shanahan’s practices as “pure football.”

“I’ve been very impressed by the way we practice. I couldn’t ask for anything more but for us to just go out there and run a ton of plays,” tight end Chris Cooley said Saturday. “It’s unbelievable how much of our offense we’ve installed being here in two days. We probably ran 100 plays out there today. There’s something that can’t make up for actually running the plays and seeing them work against the defense.”

White’s story says that Shanahan’s morning practices are long, with players in shoulder pads and shorts. The players are told to hit, but not tackle, when running 11-on-11 plays.

Gone are the creative drills and gimmicks of the Jim Zorn era. Says Devin Thomas, “It’s just pure football, back to the basics and do what we got to do.”

Spence at DC Pro Sports Report confirms all this in his impressions of Redskins training camp.

“Things move crisply under Mike Shanahan. There is no screwing around. No tossing beach balls at quarterbacks. No chit-chat. No wasted space. Horns move the players from drill to drill and the coaches move the players during the drills.”

Spence goes on to describe player performance in the first three days of camp. Clinton Portis is a bright spot.

“…Portis is a new man out there. He looks quicker than he has in years. He has real burst and acceleration, something we’ve seen precious little of in recent years. Right now, he looks as good as anyone on the team. It shows what Portis can do when he actually works in the offseason instead of loafing for six months.”

That’s good news. Portis has been the best talent on the offense since his arrival in 2004. That may not be true now with Donovan McNabb on the roster, but Portis remains the class of the running backs by far. Passing draws most of the attention by fans, but Shanahan’s offense needs running to win.

Forget that stuff about Shanny not winning Super Bowls without John Elway. He never won Super Bowls without Terrell Davis. He might have if he hadn’t traded Portis to Washington. True he got Champ Bailey and he scammed Danny Snyder out of an extra draft pick used to select Tatum Bell. But Bell was no Portis.

Portis believed that he was underpaid after rushing for 3,099 yards and 29 touchdowns in two seasons in Denver. Shanahan believed Portis was a system running back who could be replaced by any warm body. They were both wrong. These guys bring out the best in each other. Portis is just as critical to Shanahan’s offense as he was to Joe Gibbs’.

We’re not buying into any 10-win hype for the 2010 Redskins. I’m not making my predictions until after the third preseason game. I do predict that watching Clinton Portis will be big fun for Redskins fans and that Shanahan’s early steps now will make the Skins an 11-win contender in 2011.

Portis will be part of that offense, too.

See also Rich Campbell’s piece for fredericksburg.com, It’s all according to Shanahan’s plan.

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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