Running back Clinton Portis spoke with Redskins.com after Monday morning's training camp practice at Redskins Park. The fourth-year running back--now in his second season in Washington--discusses some of the changes fans can expect to see on offense in 2005.
Q: What changes do you see in the running game this year?
A: "A year ago, coming into the running game, it was exciting. A year ago, we found out that didn't work so we have another year of excitement. We got a new running game, a new scheme, we're doing different stuff. I think we're going to open it up and try to make it much more exciting."
Q: Why in your opinion did the running game not work last year:
A: "I think we tried to be a power team and bully over people and I think with our linemen, Randy Thomas, with Chris (Samuels), with Dock (Derrick Dockery)--we have athletic lineman who aren't necessarily just bull-over type guys. They're big guys but they're athletic. I think the scheme we have now is more suited for them. We have the athletes, we just have to put the scheme around them and that's what we're doing now."
Q: How does the new running scheme benefit your skills?
A: "I think it's an athletic scheme. I think we're giving the linemen a chance to use their talent, not putting them at a disadvantage by making them be bull over type guys. We're opening up our system. Last year we really didn't use our talent the way we should have. We had Laveranues Coles, probably one of the fastest guys in the league, we didn't run a lot of go routes last year. We had Rod Gardner, spectacular at making plays that you don't think he'll make and we really didn't have a big passing game. You had myself at 205 Lbs. trying to be Jamaal Lewis. I think now our scheme fits our athletes."
Q: Do you feel you'll be a home-run hitter in this offense?
"I felt like the home-run hitter last year. You couldn't have told me after that first play that I wasn't going to have 2,000 yards. But I was just thinking today, we never ran that play again in the season after that first time. If I'm not a home-run hitter, I'm going to the 5-yarders and 4-yarders and I'm going to get my yards that way."
Q: Describe the differences between the offense you ran in Denver and the offense you run as a Redskin:
A: "The scheme we had in Denver was a perfection scheme. Everybody out there was used to it. You would plug in one new person here, one new person there. Here we got three new wide receivers, a new center, a new fullback, it's a learning curve. People are going to mess up at different times."
Q: How frustrating was last season for you?
A: "To go 6-10 is frustrating. You always hope this is the game it's going to work. Last year, we had 10 games where it didn't work. This year, it's a new year. Everybody has the same record, everybody has a fresh start, the only champion is the New England Patriots."
Q: Do you think the departures of wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner will have an impact on this offense?
A: "As a teammate, you love to hang with those guys, you love to be around them. But as a business, those guys have to go out and better their living and get in situations that's going to suit them and their families. I think Laveranues was just upset that he didn't get used the way he thought he was going to be used the way when (Steve) Spurrier was here. I think Rod had a legitimate argument, only having 30 or 40 balls. So coach granted them their wish. They have the opportunity to go out and spread their wings."
Q: How did your off-season go?
A" "I just wanted to improve myself. I hope last year was my worst year ever at 1,300 yards. I needed to bulk up, learn more about the system and take more of a leadership role."
Q: You know Sean Taylor well. Did you want him to apologize for not being part of the team's off-season program during the Sunday team meeting?
A: "He doesn't have to say he's sorry, he's a grown man. We love to see him out here, he doesn't owe us anything. This is a game. I think his life is on the line, his livelihood is on the line. We love him as a teammate, we love him being around."