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Redskins notes, quotes and observations (Wed, 11/24)

RB Clinton Portis will be placed on the season-ending injured reserve list after an MRI this week revealed a newly-torn lower abdominal muscle to go along with his previously-torn groin muscle. Portis will have surgery in the near future, and he’ll need “a couple months” to recover, coach Mike Shanahan said.

The injury doesn’t hurt the Redskins as much as it does Portis. His future with the club is in serious doubt after this latest setback. A lot of factors now are working against him: The structure of his current contract allows the Redskins to release him in the offseason at no cost, and his non-guaranteed base salary is scheduled to jump from $745,000 this season to $8.3 million next year. He will have missed 19 of the last 32 games by the end of this season because of this injury and last year’s concussion. Also, he’ll be 30 next September 1. Not exactly great value for $8.3 million, is it?

Shanahan said Wednesday that he believes Portis has some good football left in him as long as he can get healthy. We’ll see whether he follows through on that during the offseason.

“It all depends on does he come back 100 percent,” Shanahan said. “Does he want to come back and play? Because he’s got that inner drive that most people don’t have, and he wants to compete. But obviously he’s got to get well.”

***

As for the Redskins’ running back situation, they were without Portis for seven weeks prior to last Sunday, so they are capable of moving on without many hiccups. With RB Ryan Torain (hamstring) almost certainly out again this week, Keiland Williams is in line to make his third straight start. Williams doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s elusive and is adept at reading cutback lanes. His pass protection is still a work in progress, and that’s the area in which the Redskins will miss Portis the most.

“I definitely feel like I’m more in a comfort zone,” Williams said, “but new weeks bring new challenges.”

***

The Redskins have now lost two running backs (Portis, Torain) after they suffered setbacks in returning from a previous injury. The situation is ripe for second-guessing, but Shanahan is comfortable with the timetable in which he brought both players back.

“Clinton wanted to go against Philly,” Shanahan said. “I said, ‘Hey, don’t go.’ From my experiences, you’ve got to wait another week. If we had waited another week or two weeks, I mean, how do you know for sure? You just got to kind of go with your guy and see how the guy practices. He practiced really well. Who knows for sure?”

It’s easy to question the decision now, I suppose. The bottom line, however, is that the Redskins are scrambling a bit at running back. They’re planning to sign free-agent RB Andre Brown to take Portis’ roster spot. Brown, who played his college ball at N.C. State, has bounced around with several teams, including Indianapolis and Carolina, during his short career.

***

SS LaRon Landry today sported a walking boot on his left leg. He didn’t practice, and he almost certainly will miss Sunday’s game against Minnesota. At this point, the Redskins are worried about Landry tearing the tendon, which would be a disaster. That’s a 12-month injury that would cost him most of next season, so they’re being cautious.

“We really have no choice but to rest it because it’s inflamed and he can’t run on it,” Shanahan said. “There’s too much pain. There’s nothing you can do to play with it relative to any type of shots or anything like that. You have to play through the pain, and if you play through that pain there’s a chance of rupturing the Achilles.”

If he can’t run at all, you have to wonder whether Landry will be back this season. It’s a shame because he was having a Pro Bowl-caliber year.

***

The Redskins’ first official injury report of the week included a season-high 14 names. The following players did not practice today: OLB Lorenzo Alexander (hamstring), DE Jeremy Jarmon (hamstring), Landry, ILB Rocky McIntosh (thigh) and Torain.

The following players were limited in practice: WR Brandon Banks (left knee), LG Derrick Dockery (knee), DL Kedric Golston (elbow/groin), RG Artis Hicks (thigh), WR Santana Moss (knee), C Casey Rabach (right knee), CB Carlos Rogers (right hamstring).

The other two on the report: QB Donovan McNabb (hamstring) fully participated in practice. Portis sat out, obviously.

Because of the Redskins’ reduced man power, Shanahan changed the structure of today’s practice. Players did not go full speed.

“I think we needed it,” Shanahan said of the change. “Any time you’re down as many players as we’re down, if you had a normal practice, you wouldn’t even be able to function on game day.”

***

Rabach and Hicks hope to play on Sunday. I know what you’re thinking after the makeshift line played so well last week. However, the line is better off with the starters in place.

“As far as my mind, I’m ready to play,” Rabach said. “Coach has a different timetable, but I definitely want to play Sunday.” He added: “You can deal with pain, it’s just the instability of it, the torn ligaments and what not that you have to worry about.”

Hicks said: “They’re doing a great job in the trainer’s room with me. I feel a lot better.”

***

Macho Harris confirmed that the Redskins signed him Tuesday to play free safety, not cornerback. He played corner for four years at Virginia Tech, but the Philadelphia Eagles moved him to safety as a rookie last season.

“Cornerback, you’re pretty much one on one with the receiver,” Harris said. “It’s basically your skill versus my skill. Being a free safety, you’re more like the quarterback of the defense. You’ve got to call the play and things like that.”

The roster numbers indicate that Harris probably will be active on Sunday. He’s the Redskins’ third safety, and it probably isn’t prudent to go into the game without a backup to either FS Kareem Moore or SS Reed Doughty.

“The scheme is different [from Philadelphia’s] but not too far off,” Harris said. “The difficult part is going to be the terminology.”

***

Fact of the day: CB DeAngelo Hall and Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin are second cousins. Hall’s dad and Harvin’s mom are first cousins, Hall said Wednesday. They’re both from the Virginia Beach area and know each other well. They’ll square off on Sunday.

“I watched him blossom from a young kid to now, a little young man, so I’m definitely excited to get out there with him,” Hall said. “I can’t wait to see if he’s as good as everybody said he is. It’s definitely a little pride thing going on. I’m definitely going to try to jump on him as best I can. I’m in that film room breaking down a lot of film trying to just critique him. After the game I’ll tell him what he needs to work on.”

***

Former Redskins WR Devin Thomas was claimed off waivers today by the New York Giants. Not only do the Giants need receiver help because of injuries, but they still have two games remaining against Washington. After Thomas’ ignominious departure from the Redskins earlier this season, I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to share what he knows about the playbook.

Carolina waived Thomas on Tuesday.

***

New Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier discussed the state of his team with us during a teleconference this morning. He hinted that players have been emotionally withdrawn from the season, which doesn’t come as a surprise considering the paradox of the team’s 3-7 record and talented roster.

“There are some things that you can do that hopefully will turn attitudes and change the mindset of our football team,” Frazier said. “That is going to be half the battle. We have struggled throughout the season, coming into a year where we had high expectations, so you got to get guys back focused on what needs to be done and [get them] emotionally engaged. What needs to get done—that is the challenge before me and the rest of my coaches.”

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