WASHINGTON - Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis unleashed a load of frustration toward rookie coach Jim Zorn yesterday, criticizing the coach for giving inconsistent messages and flippantly calling Zorn a "genius."
Portis, in his weekly appearance on WTEM-AM radio, was still smarting from his lack of playing time in Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, when he was removed from the game after the first series of the second half.
"Either you feel like you need to sever ties with me - split ties with me - but don't sit here and throw me out like I don't pay attention, like I don't know what's going on, like I'm making mistakes, like I'm the problem," Portis said. "It is what it is, bro."
Portis, third in the NFL in rushing with 1,260 yards, had only 11 carries for 32 yards Sunday. His strong start to the season - five consecutive 120-yard games from Weeks 4-8 - helped lead the Redskins to a 6-2 start, but he has barely practiced over the last few weeks because of injuries to his knee, ribs and neck. He has not missed a game but has tallied only 54 yards the last 2 weeks for the Redskins (7-6), who have lost four of five.
Zorn said Monday he did not use Portis for most of the second half against the Ravens because Portis' lack of practice time had finally caught up to the running back. The coach said Portis had stayed in to block too long instead of going out for a pass on some occasions in the first half.
Zorn went instead with backup Ladell Betts, whom the coach felt was in better position to handle the pass plays that quarterback Jason Campbell and the Redskins were attempting with a two-touchdown deficit.
Portis denied that his lack of practice time was affecting his performance. He said he had not missed a meeting and attended every practice, even though he was unable to suit up.
"Outside of Jim Zorn and the coaches on that team and maybe the quarterbacks, I guarantee you I know our system better than anybody else," Portis said. *