Q&A With: Earnest Byner

The Redskins running backs coach, and ex-runner, talks about his newest player, Clinton Portis.

Q: You said earlier that he's able to absorb hits well, what does he do?

A: He changes his angle and body position and goes with the blow at times. He can pound it and does it when he needs to, but he knows how to protect Clinton. He's a smart runner, an intelligent runner. He's very confident and very talented.

Q: Who does he remind you of?

A: I talked to one of the players in Denver, trying to do a background check to find out as much as we can. The player said Clinton reminds him of a Barry Sanders. The guy has quickness, acceleration. He has all the things as far as a player is concerned. To compare him to someone, you just say he's a Clinton Portis.

Q: Because you're a former runner, what did you look for in him that others might not have?

A: One of the things I really liked about him is his decisiveness. When he sees it, he hits it. And he protects the ball very well and he tries to get the extra yardage.

Q: He mentioned his offensive linemen in his press conference. How impressive was that?

A: He knows the game well. He's done his homework and he knows the area he needs to focus on. You have to talk about the offensive line. He's no dummy. He knows those are the guys who can make him or break him and assist him in this process. He has the foundation and he has the intellect to handle whatever is thrown at him. To do those things and work the way he works is a great combination.

Q: How important is it to have a running back who can catch the ball?

A: He has very natural hands. They talked about him having to work on that coming out. But I didn't see that at all when I watched him two years ago. His ability to get one on one with linebackers adds to the explosive nature of his game.

Q: Can he change a game?

A: There's no question. In a single play. With the acceleration and the speed that he has, his ability to break the long one and break the backs of the defenses is very crucial to what he does.

Q: Do you see him having the potential to make a special mark in history?

A: Absolutely. You have to deal with the whims of football life. But, yeah, his temperament and workout mentality in the offseason will contribute to a long and very positive career.

Q: Are those unusual attributes for a young player?

A: For a guy from Miami? I worked with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and those guys cried after losses. This guy has the same type of spirit. He loves to win and he'll do everything he has to do try to win the game and he wants it on his shoulders.

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