Clinton Portis has had plenty of personas. Now add "Tasmanian Devil" to the mix.
Portis is expected to have a leading role in the Redskins' new West Coast offense installed by Jim Zorn.
He could be Zorn's version of Shaun Alexander, who has excelled most of this decade in Seattle where Zorn was an assistant coach. Alexander rushed for 1,000-plus yards every season from 2001-05, including a career-high 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2005.
On the first day of the Redskins' off-season workouts, Portis arrived at Redskins Park on Monday optimistic about the new offense.
"I'll be the Tasmanian Devil," he said. "If Shaun Alexander did great in this system, I'm sure I'll be all right."
Portis excelled in the West Coast offense with the Denver Broncos from 2002-03, rushing for 3,099 yards in two seasons.
With the Redskins since 2004, Portis has proven he can be a workhorse back, rushing for 4,616 yards the last four years.
Last year, he rushed for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns on 325 carries. He also caught a career-high 47 passes for 389 yards.
Under Zorn, the Redskins' offense will be "more like a spread, Denver system, with pretty much the same play-calling, the same strategies and hot routes [as in Denver]," Portis said.
"I think you're going to see a lot of players go wild [in terms of] stats this year," he added. "I think there will be more opportunities to open it up and spread it out. We'll be exploiting matchups."
Running backs in the West Coast offense typically are multi-purpose backs, similar to Alexander and Philadelphia Eagles' Brian Westbrook. They play a more active role in the passing game, both as a receiver and a blocker.
Portis should be an ideal fit for that role.
Zorn has already commented how much he admires how Portis handles himself as a blocker. He oftentimes levels punishing blocks to blitzing linebackers and safeties at the line of scrimmage.
Portis said he is committed to off-season workouts after six years of hard hits and pounding in the NFL.
He hopes his presence on the first day of the off-season workout program helps set a tone.
"I'm getting older, wiser," he said. "I'm trying to work on team unity. A lot of the guys are here. I'm sure over the next week, everybody will be around. It's an early jump."
Portis also commented for the first time on Joe Gibbs's retirement as head coach and team president of the Redskins.
"It came as a shock to all of us," he said. "Obviously everyone in the locker room would have loved to have Coach Gibbs back. I'm sure everybody around here learned something from Coach Gibbs.
"Maybe we didn't do the things that he set out to accomplish, but at the same time, people became men under Coach Gibbs--and that will last a lifetime."