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SL: Portis could be best of veteran acquisitions


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Portis could be best of veteran acquisitions


Star-Ledger Staff

The Redskins gave up a lot to get running back Clinton Portis from the Broncos this off-season. Maybe they got off cheap.

Portis might be just the offensive force who can propel the Redskins to a playoff berth. Especially if the Washington defense continues to play with the multiplicity, aggressiveness and energy it showed Sunday.

Portis didn't wait long to make a strong first impression. He went 64 yards for a touchdown on his first carry, a play that was supposed to go left but Portis cut back after the Bucs overpursued.

"I once heard if you dream big, big things will happen," Portis said after the game, a 16-10 Redskins victory over the Buccaneers. "That's how I think."

When the Redskins sent star cornerback CB Champ Bailey and a second-round pick to Denver for Portis, the wisdom of trading away a shutdown cornerback seemed suspect. But in return the Redskins got a 23-year-old franchise running back who could improve their team immediately. Remember, Bailey had those perennial problems with Giants WR Amani Toomer.

The Redskins don't need 25 points a game from their offense. They need ball control, few mistakes and the occasional big play, which Portis wasted no time in providing. Portis finished with 29 carries for 148 yards, running his streak of 100-yard games to seven, including his last six in Denver.

"I think he's going to be a heck of a Redskin," coach Joe Gibbs said.

Here are some other veterans with news teams who made an immediate impact, one way or another:


Still wondering if Eagles QB Donovan McNabb was handcuffed by not having a big-play receiver? The most amazing aspect of Terrell Owens' opener in Philly was his ability to know what McNabb was thinking on his scramble. Owens was in the right spot to catch that 3-yard touchdown pass, exhibiting a level of chemistry is usually longer in coming. Owens must be right in attributing his comfort level with McNabb to their Pro Bowl experience.

Owens tied his career high with three TDs and six of his eight catches were for first downs. As he would be the first to tell you, his presence opens holes, lanes and opportunities for other players, including TEs Chad Lewis and L.J. Smith and WRs Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell.

Forget about Owens' occasional outrageous comment or the time he hid a Sharpie in his sock. He could help McNabb, and the Eagles, finally reach the Super Bowl.


Yes, we're doubling up on the Eagles. Why not? Former Titans DE Jevon Kearse got pressure on Giants QB Kurt Warner early and ran across the field to track down RB Tiki Barber after a 22-yard gain. Kearse wasn't a dominant force. But his presence certainly benefited an Eagles defense that had six new starters from last year's opening day.

Consider: The Eagles had five sacks from five different players, a cornerback, a linebacker, a defensive tackle and two defensive ends. That balance is going to be difficult for offenses to deal with, especially if they're intent on shutting down Kearse at left end.


Warner, Mark Brunell of the Redskins and Jeff Garcia of the Browns, all veteran QBs, made their first start with a new team. Warner and Brunell had similar outings. Both had a 7-0 lead after their first possession. Both fumbled twice, losing one. Neither tossed a touchdown or interception.

Warner was 16-for-28 for 203 yards. Brunell was 13-for-24 for 125 yards.

But average has a far better chance of cutting it when you're playing before a raucous home crowd, with a dictating defense and against a team that doesn't have Philly d-coordinator Jim Johnson coordinating the blitzes and T.O. catching TDs.

Garcia was 15-for-24 for 180 yards, including a 46-yard TD to WR Quincy Morgan. After saying a couple weeks ago that the Browns offense was in chaos, Garcia at least looks better than Tim Couch.


Denver doesn't regret losing Portis in the trade for Bailey -- at least not yet. For one thing, his successor, RB Quentin Griffin, rushed for 156 yards and three TDs against the Chiefs. And Bailey, one of seven new defensive starters, contributed an 11-yard reception out of the backfield and an interception that stunted a Chiefs drive in the second quarter with Broncos leading 17-7.

Et cetera

The biggest impact of the emphasis on illegal contact by defenders was probably in St. Louis, where the Cardinals had a 95-yard interception return for a TD by LB JAMES DARLING negated by a holding penalty on LB LeVAR WOODS, who was defending intended receiver BRANDON MANUMALEUNA. That would have given the Cards a 17-9 lead with 14:35 to play. Of course, the flag was viewed differently on the opposite sidelines. Rams coach MIKE MARTZ said his receiver was mugged. Cards coach DENNIS GREEN wondered how the call could be made on a defender who was within five yards of the line of scrimmage and was chucking a receiver who had the potential to be a blocker.Give Bengals coach MARVIN LEWIS credit -- he seems to have handled the QB situation last year perfectly. Clearly, CARSON PALMER can play. Now maybe Lewis can concentrate on doing what he used to do better than almost anyone: Fix the defense.

How much does Eagles RB BRIAN WESTBROOK love playing against the Giants? His 119 yards Sunday were the first 100-yard rushing game of his career. The worst sign, of many, for the Giants defense was the Eagles' success in the red zone: 4-for-4 with touchdowns.Jaguars QB BYRON LEFTWICH is expected to have a breakout season. He wasn't great at Buffalo until it mattered most. His 7-yard TD to ERNEST WILFORD with no time left could boost the Jags, and their QB, immeasurably.It's still hard to believe the Bears didn't sign a veteran QB this off-season. REX GROSSMAN might never be the answer. He threw an interception in the end zone with less than 20 seconds left in the 20-16 loss to the Lions.The Seahawks, who won in New Orleans, started right after going 2-6 on the road last season. They also contained Saints RB DEUCE McALLISTER , who rushed 16 times for 57 yards.San Diego QB DREW BREES is young, appears to have matured and had a decent opener. (Maybe it was more than decent, considering that a Chargers' victory is reason for considerable celebration.) So, the question is, why were the Chargers so intent on getting another young QB like PHILIP RIVERS ? The smarter choice might have been an offensive lineman to protect Brees, like T ROBERT GALLERY .

The Lions looked improved and had the result to show for it, snapping their 24-game road losing skid, in Chicago. But Detroit lost WR CHARLES ROGERS again to a broken collarbone. Not sure which is more significant, frankly, but the Lions had very high hopes for Rogers.The Redskins defense promised to be more aggressive under coordinator GREGG WILLIAMS . How's this? The Tampa offense managed a field goal, 169 total yards and 30 rushing yards on 15 carries. QB BRAD JOHNSON was sacked four times and the Bucs had two turnovers.Ten years ago is a lifetime in the NFL, sometimes more than one. But for the Rams, this consistency is amazing: WR ISAAC BRUCE caught the first touchdown for the Rams after their move to St. Louis. Ten years later, Bruce also caught the first Rams TD of this season.Without LT JONATHAN OGDEN (knee), Ravens RB JAMAL LEWIS was painfully ordinary against the Browns, carrying 20 times for 57 yards. Ogden has to get healthy soon. His replacement, ETHAN BROOKS , gave up three sacks to KENARD LANG . Kenard Lang?The best stat line of the weekend? Steelers RB JEROME BETTIS had five rushes for one yards and three TDs. Talk about a Bus stop.The BARBER twins, TIKI and Bucs CB RONDE , each scored a TD and both of their teams lost.An early favorite for MVP? Vikings QB DAUNTE CULPEPPER , who threw five TDs against a Cowboys defense that was ranked No. 1 in the league last season.

NFL nuggets


Indianapolis at Tennessee

After losing to the Patriots, when they failed to make a play when they needed to and had three turnovers, the Colts appear to be the same old Colts. But, hey, they've got a Pro Bowl QB. In a matchup of the league's co-MVPs last season, Peyton Manning and Steve McNair, the Titans will be the tougher team. And they might be the better one.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore

The Ravens will look for their first TD after putting up three points at Cleveland. The Steelers, coming off a victory over the Raiders that was closer than it should have been, suddenly might be the team to beat in the division. Ravens QB Kyle Boller would do well at this point to play like Trent Dilfer. The Ravens are still awaiting their first red-zone possession.

Carolina at Kansas City

A great defense against a great offense. The Panthers still might be playing in late January. The Chiefs can't stop the run, the pass or hold teams under 20 points. They need QB Trent Green to be sharper than he was at Denver, TE Tony Gonzalez to be more involved, returner Dante Hall to find a crease and RB Priest Holmes to be, well, Priest Holmes.

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Originally posted by NavyDave

The only thing I hated about the trade was including the 2nd round pick because we could ve hyped Champ up to get their second rounder.

But its water under the bridge now

I have to respectfully disagree. I don't think Denver would've ever given up a 2nd round pick along with a young running back with back-to-back 1550+ yard seasons for Champ. I think they would've just shopped him elsewhere, possibly for a lesser corner or safety AND a first round pick.

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