In a surprise announcement, coach Joe Gibbs said Saturday he thinks Clinton Portis will be a backup in the Washington Redskins' Monday night opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
Gibbs was testy as he wrapped up a week of mystery over whether his star running back had recovered sufficiently from a partially left dislocated shoulder. Portis was upgraded from questionable to probable on the injury report, although Ladell Betts remains set to start.
"If I had to say, I think Ladell will start and Clinton will play a backup role in the game," Gibbs said. "That's the way I think it's going to go. I think that's what we've tried to accurately portray during the week."
It isn't what Portis has portrayed. On Thursday, Portis all but ruled himself out of the game and said he was only 75 percent healthy. On Friday, he said he wasn't even sure he would return in time for the Week 2 game at Dallas, then joked that he was up to 83 percent.
On Saturday, Portis changed his tune.
"I'm about 93.9 right now," he said. "I've still got two more days to get to 100 percent. At the rate things have been increasing, it looks pretty good."
Portis practiced Friday and Saturday, when the team wore shorts. Portis took part in only a portion of Thursday's full-pads practice, leaving open how well he has tested the shoulder. Portis has expressed concern that tacklers will target his left shoulder once he returns.
"We haven't had a lot of physical contact since I've been trying to go," Portis said. "So it's basically mental, being in the right place and doing the right things, getting timing down--just in case."
Gibbs took exception to the notion that he would play Portis without proper preparation.
"He's practiced," Gibbs shot back. "I'm not 'throwing him in' there."
Gibbs didn't say how much Portis would be used. Portis hasn't played since hurting the shoulder while making a tackle in the Aug. 13 exhibition opener at Cincinnati.
"We'll kind of let the game portray what role that will be," Gibbs said.
Also Saturday, the Redskins downgraded defensive end Renaldo Wynn from probable to doubtful. Wynn, who has a sprained right ankle, did not practice Saturday.