Portis Says He and Zorn Are 'Together'
TAMPA, Fla.--Washington Redskins tailback Clinton Portis said today he's in sync with Coach Jim Zorn and was happy to see Zorn retained for a second season.
But Portis said he hadn't spoken to Zorn since the season ended about his future role in the Redskins' offense, and he was noncommittal on the issue of whether he'll be on hand for the team's offseason workouts at Redskins Park.
"Of course we're together," Portis said of Zorn. "But after the season, I left. I haven't had a conversation with anybody. Football is over with, and I left last year behind. We can't go back and change. There's no need to harp over it and have conversations over where we went wrong or how it happened. Myself, I'm just content, getting myself ready, well-rested and being prepared for another year."
Portis and Zorn clashed during Zorn's rookie season as an NFL head coach when Portis, frustrated about a lack of use in a game, criticized Zorn during a radio interview.
During an appearance here today promoting the Pro Bowl, Portis spoke of sending text messages back and forth with Arizona Cardinals tailback Edgerrin James during the season, with each frustrated at certain times about a lack of carries.
"You know, that's up to them, man," Portis said of how the Redskins will utilize him in Zorn's second season. "My talking doesn't do any good. It's their decision to make. However they call on me or whenever they call on me, that's when I'll get the ball."
Portis said he was pleased to see the Redskins keep Zorn so the team wouldn't have to endure another coaching switch.
"You get tired of all that change, you know," Portis said after the NFL's promotional event. "I think having Coach Zorn around, I think he's going to have the opportunity to learn. You don't have to go through the massive change of learning a new playbook, coming in early, preparing to do this, preparing to do that, gotta learn this. I think you give the players in the system the opportunity to learn the system and hopefully execute it better."
The running back indicated he thinks the Redskins can be a Super Bowl contender next season even without making major offseason changes.
"I think that same team got us to a 6-2 point last season," he said. "So if they can get you to 6-2, and we didn't play any slouches... obviously the team we had was good enough to get to there. I think the thing that happened is, we just didn't find a way to finish. So if we can find a way to finish or we can find a way to carry over throughout the season, I think we'll be all right."
He declined to say whether he thinks the Redskins should spend in free agency to bring in significant additions to the roster.
"Every year I've been there, we've went through a revamping situation," Portis said. "We revamp. We had new coordinators, new coaches, new this, new that. That's a decision they've got to make, man. For myself, the only thing I can worry about is being able stay on top of my game, being able to come back and being better next year than I was this year, and whatever I can do to help the team. Faces are always going to change in the NFL. So you've got to get used to them, get used to having a new face and hope they fill in and help you."
Asked about being at Redskins Park for offseason workouts and practices, Portis said he would "just play it by ear" and "take my time and make my decision that I think is best for me to help" prepare for next season.
Former Redskins running back John Riggins said at another Super Bowl-related promotional event later today that he thinks Portis's close relationship with the team's management has made for a difficult situation.
"He's already a headache," Riggins said at a media briefing by Sirius satellite radio. "You mean is he going to get worse? I don't know. I said that at the end of the season and I believe that unless he changes the way he views himself and views his contributions to the team, then I think that that could be problematic for the Redskins. It's a bad situation, created probably by the people who run the team, that he's been allowed to take the course that he has.
"I don't think there's any turning back now because obviously to a certain extent Clinton Portis has the team over a barrel from my understanding of the amount of money that he's owed, guaranteed money that becomes really cost-prohibitive to get rid of him over a [salary] cap issue. There's not that many teams that would be interested in Clinton Portis, I don't think, and so they have a bad situation on their hands. [That's] my personal take on it."
Riggins said he believes the Redskins do need a significant offseason retooling.
"I think that, number one, the offense is extremely suspect," the Hall of Famer said. "You saw when they played against the better defenses--not only when they played against the better defenses, it didn't make any difference who they played--they couldn't put any points on the board. They were able to run the ball earlier in the year. I thought the line did a tremendous job of blocking earlier in the year. Portis did a decent job of finding the holes. And then all of a sudden, that went away.
"They could never really throw the ball effectively. I don't think they really have any what you'd call big-play people. Maybe Santana Moss. But like I say, he's a number two [receiver] and he's your number one. If you're talking about a championship team, he's a number two. So they've got problems there. And I think some of the guys are going backwards a little bit. The offensive line obviously needs some help. So they've got a lot of work to do there. They don't really have anybody who can rush the passer consistently over on defense. They're not in the catbird's seat in the NFC East."
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