ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Off to the best start of his NFL career for a team that's won four straight, Clinton Portis was back in rare form Wednesday with a few one-liners, an interesting compliment for former coach Joe Gibbs and a new idea: the ``let's pretend I'm calling the play'' trick.
To explain: Portis was the one who suggested the fourth-and-1 draw that put the game away in last week's victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. New coach Jim Zorn has proven to be receptive to taking advice from players during games, and Portis said he's successfully lobbied for a few carries already this season.
Therefore, Portis figures, teams will now be expecting him to get the ball whenever he's seen on the sidelines speaking with Zorn. Thus, it's time to pull off the double-cross.
t up in the dirt so the cameras can get it and everybody can see it. Hopefully they call down from the box and tell the coordinator, 'Whoa, we got the play!'''
Then the real play, of course, would be a play-action fake and a deep pass over the middle. Touchdown in the bag.
Ah, that Portis. Pure genius.
The funny thing is that Zorn might actually listen. It's hard to ignore someone who is having such a good season.
Portis has run for 514 yards, a better five-game start than he had even in his breakout seasons with the Denver Broncos. He's second in the NFL in yards rushing behind Atlanta's Michael Turner (543), and his 145 yards on 29 carries against the Eagles earned him NFC offensive player of the week honors.
So, might Portis do something special for his linemen this week? Ha!
``That's the job that they're supposed to do,'' Portis said. ``They're supposed to block, so I can have some running lanes. I don't want them to get used to every time they do something good, we hand them a little envelope with some money in it. 'Hey, here's a plasma TV.' That's what they looking for. Randy (Thomas), he's been talking about plasmas and Rolexes. Randy asked for a Rolex this morning, so I cannot lead them into thinking I'm capable of doing that.''
Broncos, but four seasons of Gibbs' conservative, grinding offense took its toll. His average per carry plunged from 5.5 to approximately 4.0, and the breakaway runs that so thrilled the Mile High City virtually disappeared in the nation's capital.
Now Portis is again making a case to be one of the top two or three backs in the league. And, to hear him talk, those four tough Gibbs years were worth it - even if they only helped build character.
``Don't jump on my bandwagon,'' Portis said. ``I think I've always been the same way. I think I'm back to having the opportunity of showcasing my talent. I think Coach Gibbs is probably the greatest thing to ever happen to me - because he taught me to be humble. He taught me the appreciation of the every yard. I think the humbleness and appreciation came out of Coach Gibbs.
``Now you get to this point with Coach Z, where all of a sudden, it's 'Whoa, Clinton could still do it!' I always could do it. I just wasn't in position to do it. When you're the focal point and everybody knows you're getting the ball and they're sticking 10 people in the box, there's not much I can do.''
ames. This year, he's already had 20-yard runs already in three of five games for the Redskins (4-1).
``Exciting, if you ask me,'' Portis said. ``When somebody calls a play and starts smiling like, 'This is it, this is the play right here, I'm telling you, this is going to happen, and this is where we're going,' and its happens? It like he really knows his stuff.''
Portis also said his extra offseason work is paying off. Also, Zorn has frequently used Portis as a slot receiver, adding another dimension to the offense.
``I would say that transformation is just to an all-around back,'' Portis said. ``You can't label me a scat-back or a third-down back. Now you see I can grind. You know I can break the big ones, so I would say 'all-around back.'''
Portis is still missing that length-of-field highlight run - he hasn't broken one for more than 50 yards since the first game of the 2004 season - but he responds to that by saying: ``People are always going to want more.''
That's the same answer he gives when asked about the costumes he wore every week during the 2005 run to playoffs. Fans are always hoping he'll reprise that routine.
``It was three years ago, and people still talk about it like it just happened,'' Portis said. ``When things are going well, they'll pat you on the shoulder for everything. I'm sure they'll have my high school highlight film out soon.''

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