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Gibbs: Re-signing Betts is 'Important'

Ladell Betts could be playing himself into a new contract with the Redskins.

On Monday, head coach Joe Gibbs said that the team hopes to re-sign Betts, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Asked about Betts' status, Gibbs said: "Hopefully what we're going to be able to do is get him signed. That's what we're trying to do."

After years as a backup to the likes of Stephen Davis, Trung Canidate and Clinton Portis, Betts has emerged as a legitimate starting running back the last two weeks.

In a 17-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 26, Betts rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries. Last Sunday, in a 24-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Betts set career highs with 155 rushing yards on 28 carries. He also had an 8-yard touchdown run.

"It was a pretty awesome performance," Gibbs said of Betts' game against the Falcons.

For the season, Betts has rushed for a career-high 643 yards on 141 carries, a 4.6 yards-per-carry average, and two touchdowns. He has also caught 40 passes for 301 yards.

Complicating matters is the presence of Portis, who is widely considered the franchise back for the Redskins.

Portis rushed for 523 yards on 127 carries and logged seven touchdowns before he succumbed to a fractured hand and a lingering shoulder injury in early November. The team opted to place Portis on injured reserve, ending his season.

Last year, Portis set a Redskins single-season rushing mark when he ran for 1,516 yards.

Gibbs said that both Portis and Betts could co-exist in the same backfield.

"They have been [co-existing] the last two years," Gibbs said. "I think Clinton has felt good about the situation, and so has Ladell. The other thing is, Ladell does a lot of other things for you on your football team. He's been our up-back on special teams and he's run back kicks for us. He's a multi-talented guy and certainly it's been proven this year that you need more than one running back. They're a great complement to each other. I think Ladell likes being here. So hopefully we'll get [a new contract] done."

Gibbs added: "I will say this: It's important that we get it done."

Since taking over as the Redskins' primary backup, Betts has said he is excited to get an opportunity to showcase his skills. But he has avoided talk of his pending free agency status.

"All of that will take care of itself," Betts said on Monday at Redskins Park. "I'm not focused on that."

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