Skip to main content

Zorn explains why he held Portis out in second half

ASHBURN, Va. -- Right before the Washington Redskins opened their locker room to the media Monday morning, a member of the team's PR staff escorted Clinton Portis out through a side door and over to the off-limits-to-reporters training room.

Portis already had said enough the night before to stir things up a bit, complaining about being benched after only one second-half carry in Washington's 24-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Jim Zorn played down the player's postgame mood -- "I mean, nobody was happy," the Redskins coach said -- but he also made it sound as though a lack of practice finally caught up to Portis, who was on the field for only one possession after halftime against Baltimore.

For weeks, no one -- least of all Zorn -- complained publicly when the tailback repeatedly sat out practice because of a series of injuries, including to his knee, hip and neck. Portis was, after all, the NFL's second-leading rusher heading into this weekend.

But Zorn indicated Monday he felt backup Ladell Betts was better prepared than Portis, particularly when it came to passing situations, which the Redskins (7-6) were in plenty while trailing throughout Sunday's game.

"Without Clinton practicing, and Ladell practicing all of those protection schemes and route-running, we just felt very confident that (Betts) could ... (play) well in what we called him to do," Zorn said.

According to Zorn, Portis was not transitioning from pass protection to getting open as a safety valve for quarterback Jason Campbell against the Ravens.

"So with Ladell, who understood and actually practiced all week, he was the guy that was actually getting out" as a potential receiver, Zorn said.

Portis finished the game with 11 carries for 32 yards and three catches for 14 yards. Betts had six carries for 3 yards and three catches for 57 yards.

Through Sunday, Portis ranks third in the NFL with 1,260 yards rushing, and No. 1 with 72 first downs gained. Betts is tied with Campbell for second on the Redskins with 170 yards rushing.

Betts was diplomatic when asked about Sunday's playing time and Portis' reaction.

"I don't want to get caught up in all that," Betts said. "I just go where I'm told to go."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.