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Portis Ready For First Extensive Action

Clinton Portis was in a joking mood following Wednesday's practice. Asked by a reporter how many carries he'd like to have in the upcoming preseason game against Pittsburgh, Portis replied, "About 20."

"You want 20 carries?" a reporter replied?

Then Portis gave a sly smile and winked.

All joking aside, Portis knows that to prepare for the start of the regular season on Sept. 11, he'll need to get some work in game conditions.

"You have to prepare," Portis said. "I don't think there's too much that's important about preseason games, but you have to get yourself ready. You have to get in shape. You need to get a feel and a rhythm with your offensive line. It's real hard to get in football shape without playing football.

"I'm going to try my best not to have any contact. If I don't get hit in the game, that means I did well."

Portis has one carry for four yards in the Redskins' two preseason games so far. He sat out last week's game against Cincinnati with a sore elbow, but returned to practice this week. He is expected to play against Pittsburgh on Friday night.

Said Gibbs: "I thought Clinton made a pretty good statement when he said, 'I don't think many veterans want to play in the preseason, but you have to play because you have to get ready.' I appreciate his attitude this week and he has had good preparation. I think he needs to get in there and he does, too."

Portis, 5-10 and 212 pounds, is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,315 yards on a career-high 343 carries. It was the fourth-most carries in a season by a Redskin.

Portis said he is ready for the challenge of playing against one of the NFL's top defenses this Friday night. The Steelers finished last season as the No. 1 overall defense.

In the Redskins' 16-7 loss at Pittsburgh in Week 12 last year, Portis has his worst game of the season, rushing for 16 yards on seven carries against the NFL's stingiest defense.

"We feel like we practice against one of the top defenses every day," Portis said. "The Steelers' defense is big across the board and they're aggressive. So that means was have to be aggressive as an offense. We can't back down. We just have to go out and have fun."

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