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Paul Woody: Betts banks on making most of rare start

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Betts banks on making most of rare start

Injuries, sporadic playing opportunities have limited running back's NFL career

BY PAUL WOODY

http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=Common%2FMGArticle%2FPrintVersion&c=MGArticle&cid=1031779928835ℑ=timesdispatch80x60.gif&oasDN=timesdispatch.com&oasPN=%21sports%21redskins

ASHBURN Ladell Betts didn't come into the NFL thinking he eventually would arrive on the steps for his induction ceremony into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But he did expect more than he has gotten out of his three seasons as a running back for the Washington Redskins.

Betts will start Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings for only the second time in his pro career, and it is not based on merit.

Betts will be in the lineup because Clinton Portis is not. Portis tore a pectoral muscle Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys and was placed on injured reserve yesterday.

Sunday's game is meaningless to the Redskins (5-10), who will not be in the playoffs this season.

But the game is far from meaningless to Betts.

This is his first chance to prove he is an excellent fit for coach Joe Gibbs' offense.

"Every game, every practice is an audition," Betts said. "This is an opportunity, and I plan to take full advantage of it.

"You never know who's watching, what scouts, what personnel people."

Betts, who has two years remaining on his contract, has not been idle this season. He is the team's leading kickoff returner (23 yards per return) and is the signal-caller on the punting team. He does good work on both units, but it's not why he wanted to play in the NFL.

Betts has had 64 carries for 253 yards this season. That pales in comparison to Portis' 343 carries for 1,315 yards.

Betts, 25, is an intelligent young man, and he knew last spring that Portis is the Redskins' running back of the present and future. Portis gained 3,099 yards in his first two seasons in Denver, and the Redskins gave him $17 million in bonuses to acquire him from the Broncos in an offseason trade.

The Redskins drafted Betts out of Iowa State in the second round of the 2002 draft with the idea that he would replace Stephen Davis.

Betts started 42 straight games at Iowa State and gained 1,060 yards on 222 carries with 10 touchdowns in his senior season.

Late in his rookie year, the 5-10 222-pounder gained 214 yards in the final two games of the season while Davis nursed a shoulder injury.

Davis was released before the 2003 season. But instead of Betts assuming a spot on top of the depth chart, Trung Canidate was acquired from St. Louis.

"When Trung came in, I was told I'd have a chance to compete for the starting job," Betts said. "With Clinton, well, you've got to give Clinton his due. He'd been to two Pro Bowls. And they had just paid him all that money."

As a runner, Betts hits holes quickly, runs with power between the tackles and has a burst that can get him past linebackers and into the secondary.

At least that is what Betts appears to have. Every time an opportunity has come for Betts to win the starting job, something has happened to derail him.

In 2002, it was a hyperextended elbow on the first day of training camp. Last year, a broken arm in his first start game effectively ended his season.

No matter how Betts does Sunday, he knows Portis is the starting running back for 2005 and beyond. All Betts can do is prove he belongs in the backfield, if not with the Redskins, then somewhere in the NFL.

AND FURTHERMORE: The Redskins placed linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee) and cornerback Ade Jimoh (sprained ankle) on injured reserve yesterday rather than waste roster spots on injured players Sunday. Washington signed four players: defensive back Rufus Brown and running back Dahrran Diedrick from the practice squad and free agents Melvin Williams, a defensive end, and Kori Dickerson, a tight end. . . . Cornerback Fred Smoot (back/kidney) is doubtful for Sunday's game, and linebacker Marcus Washington (knee) is questionable. Cornerback Shawn Springs (foot) and offensive tackle Chris Samuels (ankle) are probable. . . . Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper, cornerback Antoine Winfield and tight end Jermaine Wiggins were sent home from practice yesterday because they had flu. All are expected to play Sunday.

Contact Paul Woody at (804) 649-6444 or pwoody@timesdispatch.com

This story can be found at: http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031779928835&path=%21sports%21redskins&s=1045855935462

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I've always wondered how Betts would respond if he was the starter and no one was breathing down his back. He should do alright this week, considering defense is not the strength of the Vikings.

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LET'S GO BETTS!!!

He's an inspired runner, that's for sure.

He may have too much of a power run style for a back of his size, but he's definetly productive. And he can put a hurtin' on defenders when he puts his head down. I'm excited to see if he comes out like a warrior. I have a feeling...

I love Clinton, and he's going to stay our feature back, but Ladell is certainly a worthy reserve for any NFL team.

:vikesuck: :vikesuck: :vikesuck: :vikesuck:

:dallasuck

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I have nothing against Betts, I actually like him but I hope he has a good game, a really good game so that we can trade him in the off-season for draft pick/s....For what he does we can find a rookie to do it....+ we need a true power RB for short yardage and goal-line....

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I am amazed how many people always want to get rid of good players :doh:

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I think Betts' running style actually suits the offense better than Portis...anything we could get for him wouldn't be worth it.

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Originally posted by bubba9497

I am amazed how many people always want to get rid of good players :doh:

I never got that, either.

I hope he tears it up so we can ship him off for a draft pick.

Maybe if Ramsey throws for 500 yards and 6 TDs Sunday, we can get a 1st rounder for him.

;)

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