Ladell Betts knew he needed a good showing in Friday night's preseason game to solidify his standing on the roster. He feels he achieved that--and he also put to rest any doubt that he's the type of athlete who won't play with injuries.
Betts saw significant time in Friday's 27-0 preseason victory over Atlanta. He had been hampered most of preseason with a hamstring injury.
"I was really happy to get Ladell back," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "That took guts because he was questionable and I think he was nervous about his hamstring. But he got through that and he made some carries for us. I feel much better about that now. Having him healthy certainly helps us back there."
Said Betts: "I knew it was important for the coaches and important for me to get back out there. I had to get rid of that mental block as far as testing the hamstring, because you never know when it can pop again. But it felt good to be back out there."
Betts recorded nine carries for 27 yards with two touchdowns in the game. He also logged two receptions for 15 yards.
In his two-year career, Betts has rushed for 562 yards on 142 carries, a 4.0 yards-per-carry average. He backed up Stephen Davis in his rookie season and then shared carries with Trung Canidate last year.
At 5-10 and 222 pounds, Betts should provide a change-of-pace to starter Clinton Portis.
"Ladell's a real good athlete and you lose sight of the fact that he's big," Gibbs said. "He's athletic and we know he's a good receiver coming out of the backfield. Our problem has been that we could not evaluate him and we didn't have much of a chance to see him. So as a staff we were going in kind of blind on him. So it was good that he had a chance this week and last week."
Betts has heard the words "injury prone" tied to his name in recent months, but he rejects that notion. In college, he started 42 consecutive games. The first significant injury of his football career came last year when he fractured his arm and was forced to sit out seven games. This preseason, the hamstring injury slowed him until he played in his first game against the St. Louis Rams last week.
Now Betts feels the injuries are behind him.
"Coach Gibbs gave me the opportunity to run the ball quite a bit and I was able to get into a rhythm," he said. "The offensive line was opening up holes and we were able to continue running. I tried to do my part by hitting the holes and picking up positive yards.
"Injuries are part of the game--you can't worry about that. You just have to shake them off, stay mentally tough and be able to bounce back."