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Portis insists he's still Redskins' 'feature back,' will start

Clinton Portis logged only one carry in the second half of last weekend's Washington Redskins game, and he has a history of lashing out when he believes he's receiving a raw deal.

Not this time.

"After those games, nothing changed," Portis said Thursday. "And I'm sure nothing's going to change after this game, so there's no need."

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he was pleased with Portis' effort and that the running back, who's in his seventh season with the team, will start Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Nevertheless, Portis said he doesn't have an answer for his light workload in the Redskins' loss to the St. Louis Rams last Sunday. Ryan Torain, who was promoted from the practice squad only one day earlier, ended up with the same number of carries as Portis (seven) in the 30-16 defeat.

Torain likely will have an increased role in the coming weeks, particularly on first and second downs, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported, citing team sources. Torain is quicker and more explosive, and several players said they believe he is a better fit for Shanahan's system. Portis remains the starter, but his grip is tenuous.

Portis excels in pass protection, and Torain is very raw, so the veteran remains the best option there. But if Torain can handle a bigger load, Portis likely would shift to a primary third-down role, according to the sources.

"I come to work, I clock in like you do," Portis said when asked about his current role. "I'm motivated to do my job. It's up to them. If they put me on an assignment, I do that assignment. If they don't, there's nothing I can do. ... I consider myself the feature back, one of the best backs, and I'm going to always feel that way."

The play that has been analyzed to the hilt is the 27-yard scamper when Portis went down in open field on purpose to prevent a would-be tackler from possibly stripping the ball. Shanahan said Portis' sore right wrist was a factor on that play. Portis said his wrist is fine, but he would hit the turf again if he had the play to do over.

"I could have picked up four more yards," Portis said. "Four more yards, I don't think, is going to determine the outcome of the game."

Portis has just 140 yards on 38 carries three games into the season. He said he hasn't discussed his role with Shanahan.

"Ain't nothing to talk to him about. He made the decision. The decision was made," Portis said. "It's over and done with. When we jog out on the field against the Philadelphia Eagles, I'll be in the backfield."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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