Teammates dispute Portis' 'scared' comments

Teammates dispute Portis' 'scared' comments
December 22, 2010, 9:18 pm
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010 4:00 PM

By Rich Tandler
Redskins Blogger

Even when he is on injured reserve, Clinton Portis has a way of working his way into the conversation around Redskins Park. On Tuesday during his weekly show on 106.7 The Fan, said that the benching of Donovan McNabb had the players on the team playing scared when they took on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. He based that on the notion that if McNabbs job isnt safe, nobodys is. "In the locker room, I think that the McNabb benching would scare a lot of guys," Portis said. "That Donovan McNabb, who is proven to do so much, and who has done so much in the NFL, gets benched. I think it becomes a thing in the locker room like, 'Man, if they bench Donovan, anybody can be benched. Or am I next or what's next?' And I think guys start playing for safety." Portis went on to explain what he meant. "That's really been a big part of the problem around here," he said. "People start playing for safety. So it's like, 'I gotta play safe and sound, instead of going out on the limb and making plays.' It's like, 'How do you do what they say? I don't want to be outside the box. I want to do everything I possibly could to save myself.' Instead of just laying on the line." When asked about Portis comments, Mike Shanahan answered the question with a couple of questions of his own. Who was playing scared? he said. They were playing hard because they were playing for their jobs, is that what he means? Of the idea that any player could lose his job, Shanahan said, Id say thats true, thats definitely true. Were going to play the best player, regardless of how much money they make or where they were drafted. Were going to play the best players and try to evaluate the best players. I think Clinton had better worry about his stomach and getting well. Many around the league continually point out that one of many reasons that the Redskins have underachieved is that the players are not hungry, that they are well paid and that job security rarely has been threatened. That is an aspect of the culture that Shanahan is trying to change. Perhaps that is why Portis comments seemed to raise the coachs hackles. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall disagreed with Portis notion. I dont know where Clinton got that from, Hall said. He aint been in here for probably two or three weeks. He hasnt been around us to see anything. I dont think that anybody in here is playing scared. Against Dallas, the Redskins rallied from a 27-7 deficit to tie the game at 30. Hall did not see how a nervous team could have done that. Id think that a scared group would have laid down when it was 27-7, Hall said. These guys continued to fight. There are job security concerns, said Hall, but they dont come from the coach. Youre looking over your shoulder not because of the coach, he said. Youre looking over your shoulder because the next young kid will come take your spot. Eventually everybodys time is going to run out. London Fletcher said that Shanahan simply demands that players answer to each other and to the coaching staff. The veteran linebacker and team captain said, Its OK to be a little uncomfortable. You have to understand, were in the National Football League, he said. Every man has a job to do, everyone has accountability to each other, were all depending on each other. The first thing that coach Shanahan has expressed since Day One is accountability, guys going out and playing for each other, not getting caught up in individual things. Hes definitely stressed that since day one. Thats the way it should be. Its a privilege to play in the National Football League, everyone has a responsibility. Wide receiver Anthony Armstrong has had to battle for his career for his entire NFL life as he has bounced from one practice squad to another. He did not feel particularly nervous in the wake of McNabbs benching. I know I wasnt playing tight or scared or anything like that, the 27-year-old rookie said. I was still playing the same ballgame regardless.You can reach Rich by email at and follow him on Twitter @RealRedskins.Join Rich Tandler for an in-game chat during the Redskins-Jaguars game on Sunday. Things will get underway shortly before kickoff at 12:45 Eastern and continue all game long.