<
>

Portis out at least three weeks with broken hand

ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis had surgery Monday on a broken bone in his right hand and is
expected to be sidelined three to four weeks.

Portis had three screws inserted into the ring finger bone, which
was broken late in the first quarter of Sunday's 27-3 loss to
Philadelphia. He'll wear a cast for a week to help control
swelling, then some kind of splint during the rest of his
rehabilitation.

Portis conceivably could be done for the year. He's had four
injuries in three months and isn't due to return until
mid-December, when the Redskins (3-6) -- barring a turnaround -- will
be well out of contention.

Portis was the team's offensive engine and lead personality
during last year's playoff run. This year, he has been as
inconsistent as the rest of the offense, partly because of his
injuries and partly because of the team's adjustment to new
offensive coach Al Saunders.

Portis has run for 523 yards on 127 carries. He's never had
fewer than 1,315 yards or 273 carries in a season. He's had 25-plus
carries just once this year, when he ran 27 times for 112 yards
against Jacksonville in his only 100-yard game.

Portis partially dislocated his left shoulder making a tackle in
the first preseason game, and he wasn't completely recovered when
he played in the season opener and injured the shoulder again. He
missed one game, then sprained an ankle in a loss to Tennessee five
weeks later. All along, he expressed frustration over the pounding
his body was taking and bewilderment over how he was being used by
Saunders.

Portis' replacement is Ladell Betts, primarily a kickoff
returner in seasons past. Betts is already having a career year
with 366 yards rushing and 231 yards receiving on 30 receptions,
only one catch behind team leader Santana Moss. Betts will make his
fifth career start next week at Tampa Bay.

"It'll probably give me a chance to get used to being in the
starting role," Betts said. "I look at it as a chance to go out
and showcase what I can do and help this team gets some wins. Most
running backs tend to be rhythm carriers, the more carries you get,
the better you get. Hopefully that'll be the situation for me."

The Redskins will also get some overdue mileage out of T.J.
Duckett, who has been mostly idle since being acquired him in a
preseason trade. Duckett has only seven carries for 40 yards this
season.

The Redskins reported one other injury from the Eagles game.
Defensive end Phillip Daniels has a sprained wrist and will be
limited in practice this week, but he is expected to play against
the Buccaneers.