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News & Notes: Portis, James Meet Again

When the Redskins host the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday, Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James are sure to greet each other before the game.

And then, for the two former University of Miami stars and close friends, it's on to the business at hand.

Clinton Portis has only faced off against Edgerrin James once since 2004, when Portis arrived in Washington.

That was last year, when the Redskins defeated the Cardinals 21-19 at FedExField last year.

James had 27 rushes for 83 yards against the Redskins' defense, while Portis logged 18 carries for 43 yards.

"It's enjoyable playing against Edgerrin because we know we're both playing against great defenses and it's always a competition," Portis said. "At the end of the day, we're still going to call one another and give each other advice."

Except for this week, Portis added with a smile.

James is ranked 13th all-time among all-time rushing leaders with 11,762 yards. He has 155 yards on 44 carries so far this year, a 3.5 yards-per-carry average.

James's backup is former University of Richmond back Tim Hightower, who has two rushing TDs this season.

Portis is off to a strong start, with 44 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

"I still feel like we have left a lot of points out on the field [in last week's 29-24 win over the New Orleans Saints]," Portis said of the Redskins' offense. "We probably should have scored 28 more points looking at the film. Just realizing our potential and knowing that this offense can get better is a plus."

A big part of opening rushing lanes for Portis is blocking the Cardinals' Darnell Dockett, who is fast emerging as a dominant defensive tackle.

"[Dockett] is so quick that you can hardly get a double team on him," head coach Jim Zorn said. "He slants, bursts, rushes, pulls and runs down the line, and he's relentless. I think he's going to have a great year."

-- THRASH, KELLY PRACTICE

Good news for the Redskins' wide receiver corps: James Thrash and Malcolm Kelly were back at practice on Thursday, although both were limited.

Thrash and Kelly suffered ankle injuries in the Saints game last Sunday.

Of Thrash, Zorn said: "He's coming along. I don't think he's 100 percent yet, but it's promising. He has a mild high ankle sprain. He tried to practice a little bit, and hopefully on Friday, he'll go further. We'll see on Sunday."

Of Kelly, Zorn said: "Malcolm was very protective of his ankle. He is trying hard. That's going to be questionable, we'll try to have him push through it. He wants to go in a bad way, he'll push himself.

If Thrash and Kelly are sidelined for Sunday's game against Arizona, Devin Thomas is expected to see more action in three wide receiver sets.

-- FLETCHER EXCUSED

London Fletcher has been excused from practice the rest of the week so that he can attend to an urgent family matter.

Fletcher is expected to be back at Redskins Park on Saturday morning, Jim Zorn said.

His absence is not related to his rib injury, which Zorn described as mild.

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