Clinton Portis has said he is fine with whatever role backup running back Ladell Betts has in the offense each season.
Well, it appears Portis will have an opportunity to prove it this season.
Coach Jim Zorn has expanded Betts's responsibilities, making him the primary running back on third downs. That previously had been Portis's domain -- as well as every other down for the Redskins' offense -- as long as Portis was physically sound enough to play or not on the sideline during a rare break for him.
Betts has earned the opportunity because of his impressive performance throughout the offseason and camp and the professionalism he has exhibited under Zorn, coaches and players said. The Redskins also expect Portis to benefit from more time off. Portis experienced a major drop-off in production during the second half of last season (he rushed for at least 80 yards just twice in the final eight games), and his late flop coincided with the team's 2-6 collapse. Fewer plays, the theory goes, should help Portis remain energized from start to finish.
The main reason for the change, though, is that Betts forced the issue because of what he's done on the field, and the Redskins are eager to give him more work.