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Portis: 'Catch'-ing On In Passing Game?

Clinton Portis's career-high in receptions is 40, set in 2004. That number may be in serious jeopardy this time around, though.

Considering the way Al Saunders likes to employ running backs in the passing game, Portis may put up big numbers in terms of pass receptions in the coming season.

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Sounds like that will be fine with the fifth-year pro out of the Univesity of Miami.

"In this scheme, I know I'm going to get a lot more passes than past years," Portis said. "If they get the ball to me in the open, I'm going to look forward to getting some yards downfield."

Despite his 141 career catches in the NFL, Portis has never been regarded by opposing defenses as a bona fide threat in the passing game. That could change in '06. In Saunders' Kansas City offense, Priest Holmes averaged 68 catches in a three-year span between 2001 and 2003.

Portis could post solid pass-receiving stats even with an impressive Redskins wide receivers corps that includes Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd.

"I'm ecstatic about having Brandon Lloyd around," Portis said. "I think he and Reggie Wayne are the most underrated receivers in the NFL. You can see that the team is really excited. Having Coach Saunders come in opened up a lot for us. Everyone wants to make sure that we continue the success that he's had. That's the pressure we have on our shoulders now."

One of the key contributions made by Portis in 2005 concerned the fact that he finished strong in the team's late-season stretch, particularly versus NFC East opponents Dallas, the Giants and Philadelphia. Portis believes it will be much more difficult this year for opposing defenses to try and figure out where the Redskins will be going with the ball.

"Last year, even with the streak we went on, everybody knew our offense. There are only so many plays," Portis noted. "So having coach Saunders here is a plus. He gives all the guys on the team an opportunity to produce."

Added Portis: "I'm really confident heading in to 2006. We didn't add a little bit, we added a lot. We needed another go-to guy besides Santana (Moss) and we went out and got two in Brandon and (Antwaan) Randle El.

"So any time you have that many weapons on the field with Chris Cooley inside playing the way he plays and Mark (Brunell) being the smart guy that he is, you're going to create a lot of mismatches."

It's a year after he became the Redskins' all-time, single-season rushing leader with 1,516 yards. But Portis doesn't want to focus on individual accomplishments. He'd rather talk about helping to move the team and the organization forward.

The former Denver Bronco puts it this way: "Rushing yards don't matter to me as long as I get a ring. If we get a ring, I'm sure my rushing yards will be up where they need to be."

Portis has been in the league since 2002, but last year, in the form of the 17-10 win at Tampa Bay, he got his first taste of postseason success. He says it's likely to have a carryover effect--not just for him but for all of his teammates.

"A lot of guys here had never won a playoff game. To see that you can win a playoff game gives everyone on the team hope," Portis maintains. "The belief and the understanding that we can win a playoff game will drive a lot of people."

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