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FWST: Redskins' Portis would like to smack Cowboys


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Redskins' Portis would like to smack Cowboys


IRVING - Redskins coach Joe Gibbs has asked his running back, Clinton Portis, to please tone down his smack talking.

And he has.

Kind of.

What he called to tell Cowboys safety Roy Williams on Wednesday was tame by Portis standards.

"He was like, 'Yeah, man, my mom is going to have good seats to see me score on y'all,' " Williams said. "I was just laughing. He is talking about where she is sitting and all."

Portis and Williams have a friendship born from a chance meeting at an NFL orientation. So Portis can talk smack to him.

Portis has been able to talk smack to everybody else in the NFL because hardly anybody has been able to shut him down in his two-plus NFL seasons, which is the only way to shut him up. He had 1,591 yards his rookie year in Denver, despite missing two games, and added another 1,508 yards last season, his last in a Broncos uniform.

Ask anybody who has played against him, sometimes you can just hear a tremendously frustrating day coming on.

"Smack, smack, smack, he talks a lot of smack," said Cowboys defensive end Marcellus Wiley, who saw and heard plenty of Portis while playing for the San Diego Chargers. "It gets louder as the game goes on and he does better. So the key is to get after him early and try to stay after him. That's the only way."

Which is what Wiley has been preaching to his teammates all week. Portis officially became a Cowboys nuisance March 4 when Gibbs traded Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round draft pick to Denver for him. What the Redskins gave up was a lot. What they got back was what they desperately coveted: an almost as-good-as-guaranteed 100 yards rushing per game.

"It wasn't a guessing game," Gibbs explained.

What had people guessing was, why Portis? He is hardly your "prototypical" Gibbs power back.

"I'm accustomed to any back that can make yards," Gibbs said. "In John Riggins, we had a huge fullback who was very strong and made a lot of yards for us. Earnest Byner was 220 pounds, solid as a rock, good pass receiver, made a lot of yards for us. We had Terry Metcalf and Joe Washington. They were small backs and darters who made a lot of yards for us. I think as a coach you don't care what the package looks like, as long as you can make yards."

Portis has done that in his two games in a Redskins uniform, rushing for 217 yards and a touchdown.

He just has not been as prolific as he was in Denver, with only 69 yards last week against a less-than-stout New York Giants defense, and two fumbles. In fact, take away his 64-yard touchdown run in his debut, and Portis has averaged a mere mortal and very Troy Hambrick-ish 3.1 yards per carry.

It has led to talk that maybe the Broncos system made Portis, not Portis making the system. He does not do well with such talk.

"Man, I really don't care about the talk about a system," Portis said. "If you think a system is what makes backs, it's for the media to perceive. You can draw up all the X's and O's that you want, but when you get on the field, it never happens that way."

Which is why the Cowboys' defense has spent almost all week tucked away in film rooms.

Linemen and linebackers and safeties and cornerbacks have studied Portis' every twitch with attention usually reserved only for Halle Berry films. What they have learned is that Portis, not unlike a lot of good backs, gets a lot of his yards cutting back and is extremely dangerous when allowed to bounce outside.

"He has great vision," Wiley said, "and he has the feet to go where he sees."

What the Cowboys defenders, who rank 26th in the NFL against the run, say they have to do is what all defensive players say they have to do when facing a good back. Get a lot of guys around the ball. Stay in their gaps. Swarm him when he has the ball. What the Cowboys can't do is what they did against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday: stop them, stop them, stop them, let down for a single play and give up a big run.

Because Portis is the kind of back for whom a single big run gets him rolling.

His legs. And his mouth.

And will Gibbs' ban stop this? Not likely.

"When we get on the field, coach Gibbs can't hear what I'm saying," Portis said.

Which is good because you can bet Portis will be pointing out his mom for Williams.


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Cowboys are going to approach the game just like the Giants did on the defensive side of the ball.

Alot of 8 man fronts, daring us to run on them.

Cannot abandon the run but have to do something to get that 8th man out of the box.

Whomever the Skin's Qb is he is going to have to stretch the field and get the 8th man out of the box.

If Pat is the Qb:

My first offense playcall would be play-action pass.

The pass being a crossing pattern to Coles.

Pat loves to throw the crossing pattern and does it well.

If they blitz change it to a slant instead of a crossing pattern.

If Mark is the Qb:

Play action naked bootleg hitting Cooley or the TE/H-back.

Hell if his hamstring is ok I might even try a naked bootleg with Mark running the ball.

I think Portis will do most of his damage in the second half of the game after the defense is loosed up.

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