ASHBURN, VA. -- Running back Clinton Portis made a surprise appearance in the Washington Redskins' locker room Wednesday, knowing that he might never return to his professional home of the past seven years.
"It's a time you take stuff for granted, it's a time you come to the realization that every game is precious," said Portis, who has played in just 13 games the last two seasons because of a concussion in 2009 and a torn groin this year. "You don't have forever and the last few years show you that."
Portis, 29, just 77 yards of 10,000 career rushing yards and 648 shy of Hall of Famer John Riggins' franchise record, wants to remain with the Redskins, but he doesn't know what to expect.
"That's out of my control," said Portis, who was averaging 4.2 yards per carry when his season ended in Week 11 but is due to make $8.2 million in 2011. "That's up to the front office. If they want to keep me, of course they have first option. If they want me to let go, I'm OK with understanding the business side of this. It will be a bittersweet moment, but you gotta go on."
Portis said that unlike many previous years, he worked diligently during the offseason to show new coach Mike Shanahan, who drafted him in Denver in 2002 and traded him to Washington in 2004, that he wanted to be part of the program.
Despite Shanahan's underwhelming 6-9 debut, Portis said the coach is turning around an organization that he believed was on the edge of disaster, notably by refusing to give into the demands of former All-Pro defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth. The Redskins had made Haynesworth the NFL's richest defensive player in 2009, before his much-publicized spats with Shanahan over his position and conditioning.
Portis said the Redskins lost a lot of close games in which a play or two by Haynesworth could have made a difference.
"When you go and sacrifice a guy such as an Albert Haynesworth to prove like, 'OK. This is my team, I'm in control,' sacrifice a guy you know can help you win -- it's get with the program or get out," Portis said.
Ryan Torain, who also has had injury issues but is four years younger than Portis and much less costly, has emerged as Washington's No. 1 running back with 681 yards and 4.7 per carry. Not that Portis believes he's done if Shanahan bids him adieu again.
"I know I got good football left in me, being fresh, the last two years not having a lot of contact," Portis said. "The two injuries, the concussion and the groin, was just really fluke injuries. I don't think that's a wear and tear like, 'Oh, his body broke down.' I don't think I'll be just a contributor on any team.
"I think a defensive coordinator will probably game plan (for me). I don't think you're gonna look and say, 'That's Portis. Don't worry 'bout him.'"
Notes:Redskins kicker Graham Gano was selected NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after his 31-yarder beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-17 in overtime last Sunday. Three weeks ago, he missed two chip shots in a 17-16 loss to the Buccaneers. "After the Tampa Bay game, it's good to come back and show everybody what I can do," Gano said. ... The Redskins placed starting free safety Kareem Moore (knee) on season-ending injured reserve. Moore had surgery on his right knee in August and will have another operation on the knee Monday. The Redskins replaced Moore with safety Reggie Jones, who had been with the New Orleans Saints.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press