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News » Job No. 1: Put Portis up against wall


Job No. 1: Put Portis up against wall


Job No. 1: Put Portis up against wall
Danny Clark knows the Giants' defense has to be wary of Clinton Portis. He also knows that, surprisingly, not everybody else always is.


"He's lulled a lot of people to sleep," Clark said, which is an odd way to describe a player who leads the NFL in rushing with 1,206 yards and is among a handful of MVP candidates in the league.

Those guys usually aren't compared to hypnotists or Xanax pills for their ability to make a defense's eyes glaze over, but Clark said Portis can do just that ...

"If you get caught up in it," Clark said. "A week ago, he wasn't supposed to play. They said he was doubtful and his injuries were getting the best of him. But he came out and ran for 143 against the Seahawks."

The Giants have vowed not to be caught by surprise. And they've stated that their main goal today - when they face the Redskins in a game that could eliminate Washington from contention for the NFC East title - is to stop Portis. "Job one, two, three, four, however many number of times he wants to carry the ball, that's the job each time," linebacker Antonio Pierce said of prioritizing Portis. "He's doing everything for them. An MVP-type season for him. We can't let him have an MVP performance on Sunday."

The Giants know that as Portis goes, the Redskins usually follow. He has seven games in which he has run for at least 90 yards this season. The Redskins are 6-1 in those games.

One of those games in which Portis failed to reach the magic number of rushing yards was the season-opening game against the Giants. They held him to 84 yards on 23 carries. "That's more than we like to give up," Clark said, but the Giants probably would take their chances with those numbers today.

The key to slowing Portis back in September, the Giants said, was stopping him before he was able to get going. That meant pushing the line of scrimmage 2 or 3 yards into the backfield. Pierce called the front that the Giants want to build the Great Wall of China.

"We put up that wall and don't let him cross it," he said of the seven, eight or even nine players who will be in the box at times to stuff the run.

For his part, Portis downplayed his own contributions. This is a different team from the one the Giants faced in September, he said. There are more weapons on offense. The team is more comfortable with coach Jim Zorn. Jason Campbell has developed into one of the league's top quarterbacks with only three interceptions this season.

"It was the first game of the season, they knew I was going to be the focal point, but now I think a lot of guys are stepping up and we have all the guys on our team making plays," Portis said this past week. "It's kind of hard to just sit and focus on me and determine to stop me when we have other guys capable of making plays."

He might as well have been telling the Giants to concentrate on his swinging pocket watch and cluck like a chicken when he snaps his fingers. That's what Clark and the Giants were talking about. That's how teams are lulled. But they're not falling for it. They're wide-awake to what lies ahead.

"He's option 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11," Pierce said, leaving no room for doubt about his focus. "He's the guy. If we don't stop Portis, it'll be a long day for the New York Giants ."

Giants AT WASHINGTON ,

1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 5

Radio: WFAN (660)

ABOUT THE Redskins

Record: 7-4.

Coach: Jim Zorn, first year (7-4).

Last week: Beat the Seahawks in Seattle, 20-17.

The skinny: The Redskins are one of only three teams in the NFL to have players who are ranked in the top 12 among rushers, receivers and passers, but don't mistake that for balance. This is still a Clinton Portis team, and the league's leading running back makes the engine go. After starting the season as the first team in NFL history without an offensive turnover in its first five games, the Redskins have since lost six fumbles and three interceptions. Cornerback Shawn Springs missed the opener against the Giants but will be on the field today. Safety LeRon Landry, who was steamrolled by Brandon Jacobs in September, will either be looking for payback or looking to get out of the way. London Fletcher leads the Redskins in tackles with 92, but no one on the team has more than 3.5 sacks (Demetric Evans). The Skins have 17 sacks as a team. Only four teams have fewer.

MEET THE ENEMY

Jason Campbell, QB

It's amazing what a little confidence can do for a quarterback. Jim Zorn comes into Washington and gives Campbell a little freedom at the line of scrimmage, a little extra attention that only a former NFL quarterback could give, and all of a sudden, the scatter-armed kid who was a borderline bust has turned into one of the most secure quarterbacks in the NFL. He has thrown just three interceptions all season - none in the first eight games and none last week against the Seahawks - while completing 10 touchdown passes. "He's just not forcing the ball down the field because he knows where other receivers are," Zorn said of Campbell's evolution from downfield chucker to check-down passer. "He's making good progress, kind of changing his style of play."

INJURY REPORT

Giants - Out: WR Plaxico Burress (hamstring/gunshot wound), LB Jonathan Goff (hamstring); Questionable: RB Brandon Jacobs (knee), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), DT Fred Robbins (shoulder); Probable: WR Domenik Hixon (ankle), DE Justin Tuck (lower leg), DE Jerome McDougle (knee).

Redskins - Out: LB Marcus Washington (ankle); Questionable: DE Andre Carter (foot), LB London Fletcher (foot), DT Cornelius Griffin (shoulder), DT Kedric Golston (ankle), RB Clinton Portis (knee/oblique), T Chris Samuels (knee); Probable: G Pete Kendall (knee), DT Anthony Montgomery (Achilles).

The Clinton Portis Show

244

Rushing

attempts

NFL rank: 2

1,206

Rushing yards

NFL rank: 1

4.9

Yards per carry

NFL rank: 5

7

Rushing

touchdowns

NFL rank: T-10

109.6

Rushing yards per game

NFL rank: 1

13

20+ yard rushes

NFL rank: 2

1

Fumbles

NFL rank: T-38



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 30, 2008

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