DENVER, Colo. - No one was more surprised when the Denver Broncos drafted Clinton Portis in the second round of the NFL Draft than Clinton Portis himself.
He honestly thought he would go much higher than the fifty-first overall pick.
Eight weeks into the 2002 season and the surprise comes from the thirty-two teams that passed on Portis, only to find him leading all rookies with over four hundred yards rushing, including three 100+ yard games.
In fact, his early season stats are reminiscent of another Broncos running back, one that eventually became the National Football League's Most Valuable Player while helping lead the Broncos to back to back Super Bowl victories.
Comparison's aside, Portis is slowly proving himself as Denver's back of the future. The type of player that franchises are built upon, around and for. His ability to cut back, find the hole and accelerate past veteran defensive backs is turning heads among teammates and opponents alike.
His durability is also making points.
Portis set a career high mark with 26 carries against New England on Sunday, six more than his previous high set against the San Diego Chargers.
"God," said Portis when reporters informed him of the new record. "I think I need to go out and pop a few big runs and stay between 15 and 20 (carries).
"But once you get into the flow of the game, I really didn't even know that I had 20 carries. I didn't think the load was that bad. I knew I had some carries, but I didn't think I had 20. Once you get into the game, you just go and play. You worry about what happens afterwards."
What Portis doesn't need to worry about is securing his starting spot on the Broncos roster. With 562-yards, four touchdowns and an average of 4.3 yards per carry through the first eight games, he stands miles above Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary, both of whom are excellent running backs in their own right.
Among fellow NFL players Portis stands above such notable backs as Emmit Smith, Edgerrin James, Eddie George and Garrison Hearst.
"I'm just trying to go out an prove myself," said Portis. Right now, I'm just taking what I can get, if it's three and four yards. Hopefully the big yards will come."
If the performance so far is any indication, big yards are definitely in store for Clinton Portis.
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