With Portis done, Redskins turn to youth

Clinton Portis is headed for surgery and the season-ending injured reserve list. The Redskins will be turning to an undrafted rookie to start against the Vikings on Sunday.

At midseason 2009, Clinton Portis was a year removed from leading the NFL in rushing. He was just 304 yards shy of becoming the 25th back in NFL history with 10,000 yards and 876 from surpassing Hall of Famer John Riggins as the leading rusher in Redskins history.

Just 28, Portis appeared to be a lock to reach those goals, but now it looks as if he might never reach them. Portis tore an abdominal muscle last Sunday at Tennessee in his first game back after missing five with a torn groin, and he'll be placed on injured reserve.

"He's going to have surgery," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "It will be a couple of months before he can get back. He's really disappointed. Initially we thought we might be able to rehab and get him back before the end of the season, but after talking to Dr. (James) Andrews, that wasn't the case. Sometimes when a running back is moving and he gets in a certain position, maybe he overcompensated (for the groin) and all of a sudden something tore."

With Ryan Torain, who started Weeks 5 through 8, likely to miss a third straight game with an injured hamstring, the Redskins plan to give rookie free agent Keiland Willams his second start in three weeks Sunday against Minnesota.

"CP's a big part of this team and it's tough when you lose him, but other guys gotta step up," said right guard Artis Hicks, who noted Portis' excellence as a blocker. "Keiland's been doing a great job, being a rookie and coming in and having to learn what he's had to learn ... and keeping things going."

James Davis, just promoted from the practice squad, will back up Williams on Sunday along with Andre Brown, who'll be signed off Denver's practice squad, if he passes his physical. Davis had 13 carries for Cleveland the last two years. Brown, who has two carries this season, had worked with Redskins running backs coach Bobby Turner last season with the Broncos.

"You just hand the ball off to 'em and watch whoever's back there run," said quarterback Donovan McNabb, whose offense is 22nd in rushing with 96.9 yards per game and 14th with 4.1 yards per carry. "It's tough when guys are getting banged up like that because you don't know who's next."

As for what's next for Portis, he averaged 4.2 yards on his 54 carries this year and looked good against the Titans with 32 yards on five attempts (plus a 14-yard catch) before getting hurt.

"It really is disappointing because he's worked so hard to get to where he's at," said Shanahan, who added that he had to talk Portis out of trying to play in Week 10 against Philadelphia. "You hate to see a person work that hard and then not get an opportunity to finish the season. When he did play, he played exceptionally well."

Only Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Walter Payton, Canton lock Marshall Faulk and fellow active backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Steven Jackson have averaged more yards from scrimmage per game than Portis' 105.7. Only Tomlinson and Fred Taylor have more rushing yards among active backs, and only Tomlinson has more rushing touchdowns.

However, Portis is due to make $8.25 million in 2011 when he'll be 30. And by the end of this year, Portis will have missed 19 of Washington's last 32 games with a concussion (the final eight games of 2009), the groin and now the abdominal tear.

And since he ran for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns on 244 carries (4.9-yard average) in the first 11 games of 2008, he hasn't performed like the Pro Bowl back he was twice during his first seven seasons. In his last 18 games. Portis produced just 1,002 yards and five touchdowns on 276 carries (3.6-yard average).

SERIES HISTORY: 15th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead the series, 8-6. The Redskins have a 3-2 postseason edge. In the team's last meeting in Week 16 in 2007, Washington continued what would prove to be a successful playoff push by holding Adrian Peterson to 27 yards on nine carries while beating host Minnesota 32-21 as Todd Collins completed 22 of 29 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns.

NOTES

  • SS LaRon Landry remains in a walking boot with an Achilles injury and is unlikely to play Sunday at Minnesota.

  • OLB Lorenzo Alexander, who left the Tennessee game with a hamstring injury, didn't practice Wednesday.

  • ILB Rocky McIntosh, who left the Tennessee game with a groin injury, didn't practice Wednesday.

  • RB Ryan Torain, who missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, didn't practice Wednesday.

  • DE Jeremy Jarmon, who missed the Tennessee game with a hamstring injury, didn't practice Wednesday.

  • CB Carlos Rogers was limited Wednesday after missing the Tennessee game with a hamstring injury.

  • RG Artis Hicks (thigh) was limited Wednesday after missing the Tennessee game with a thigh injury.

  • C Casey Rabach, who left the Tennessee game with an injury to his right MCL, was limited Wednesday.

  • DE Kedric Golston, who left the Tennessee game with a groin injury, was limited Wednesday.

  • G Derrick Dockery, who left the Tennessee game with a knee injury, was limited Wednesday.

  • WR Santana Moss (knee) was limited Wednesday.

  • WR Brandon Banks (knee) was limited Wednesday.


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