In-Depth Chart: Running Back

Leading up to training camp, is taking a look at the Redskins' position by position. Today is a look at the running back position where Clinton Portis is ready to take the next step and become an elite back. Our in-depth chart will continue through all of the positions.

Starter: Clinton Portis
Experience: 5th NFL season, 3rd with Redskins
2005: Started 16 games

Resume: When the Redskins made their five-game run to the playoffs in December, it was Portis leading the way, gaining over 100 yards in each game and scoring six touchdowns. Up the middle, around the end, it didn't matter, the Redskins just fed Portis the rock and he got it done. He's widely considered to be just a notch below the game's elite running backs but if he puts together another 1,500-yard effort that would be his fourth in five years in the league it would be very hard to leave him off of the short list of the best backs around.


Said about Portis: Clinton is very instinctive. He has a burst in there and sometimes he kind of twists to finish runs. He does what it takes. Real good backs have a feeling for that. Sometimes he looks like he is being patient and other times it's a real burst.--Joe Gibbs

John Keim's Inside Juice: He continues to mature. When he first arrived, I doubted he'd ever become a leader, or even close to it. He still has his wild side, but he's clearly maturing -- just look at his past offseasons in Washington. He's also become a smarter running back who doesn't just rely on his skills. He's much more patient choosing holes and allowing them to open. I love him because he does anything it takes to win. He's not the best pass catcher, but he does block well downfield and always hustles. I expect a huge season, especially if they spread the field as much as expected. That'll leave more holes for Portis.

Betts, Cartwright, Lumsden

Depth: Ladell Betts spelled Portis last season and averaged 3.8 yards on his 89 carries. His problem was exactly what it has been in past seasons; he has problems staying healthy. Rock Cartwright was able to take advantage of Betts' absence to have a career game against the Rams as he racked up 118 yards on just nine carries. Still, it appears that Betts in the clear #2 and Cartwright's opportunities will be limited. The wild card here is former Canadian collegiate and pro star Jesse Lumsden. It will take some doing for him to unseat Betts, who Al Saunders praised profusely at minicamp, or Cartwright, a Gibbs favorite, but the two incumbent backups had better be on guard since Lumsden just might have enough talent to steal one of their spots.

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