Portis Ready to Run Wild

Clinton Portis can't stop smiling. Whether it's lounging around with some NFL colleagues, chatting on his cell phone or taking playful cuts on the field during a recent charity event, the former University of Miami star can't avoid flashing a grin.

"I'm happy, man," says Portis. "I'm going to be playing on Sundays for the Washington Redskins - can't go wrong with that.

That's for sure.

After playing his first three seasons in Denver, Portis will be carrying the ball for the Redskins thanks to a blockbuster deal that sent the former University of Miami star to Washington. Portis, 22, signed an eight-year, $50 million deal with the Redskins after the trade.

Portis, who averaged over 1,500 yards rushing in two seasons with the Broncos, could not get the Broncos to open up their wallets and meet his demands for a new contract. After being selected in the second-round of the 2002 draft - 51st overall - Portis was an instant success with the Broncos - something many people doubted coming out of UM.

The 5-11, 204-pounder rushed for 1,508 yards and scored 15 touchdowns as a rookie. He followed that up with 1,591 yards and 14 touchdowns last season landing him in the Pro Bowl. But unable to agree on a long-term deal with the Broncos Portis was sent packing.

"I proved to everybody over there that I can play in this league and I felt I should be rewarded like it," says Portis, who will receive $17 million in bonus money from the Redskins. "I'm not afraid to say I'm one of the best running backs in the league."

Although Portis only expressed gratitude towards the Broncos those close to him say he is carrying a chip on his shoulders. During a press conference introducing Champ Bailey, Denver owner said the Broncos had never obtained a defensive back of his skill - brushing off Portis.

"Clinton won't say it, but he's hurting a little bit," says Oakland defensive tackle Warren Sapp, a former Hurricane. "I'd be worried if I had to face Clinton Portis this season."

Portis is also stepping into a pressure-filled situation. After several seasons of not factoring in the NFC East, the Redskins are expected to be serious Super Bowl contenders. In addition to landing Portis and hiring Joe Gibbs the Redskins also acquired Mark Brunell, Cornelius Daniels, Kevin Mitchell and Ethan Albright.

Under Steve Spurrier the Redskins elected to pass over the running game in favor of an air-attack. But with Gibbs in charge Potis can expect to carry a big load out of the backfield.

He can't wait to get going.

"They've made a lot of moves and expect me to be a major player - I'm excited," says Portis. "It's exciting to know that the Redskins want to win."

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