WPC: Ask the experts: Why Parker and what it means for Portis

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Pappas

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http://web.warpathconfidential.com/?p=3265

Ask the experts: Why Parker and what it means for Portis

The news Friday that the Redskins signed running back Willie Parker was a bit of a surprise for Redskins nation. After all, the team had signed Larry Johnson on March 12. When the Johnson signing was announced, some wondered if it could be the signal of a Clinton Portis exit. With Parker joining the team, the question becomes even more relevant.

Washington now has three veteran running backs, with six pro bowls and over twenty thousand yards between them. But none have rushed for over 1,000 since 2008 when Portis did it. And is there room for all of them on the Redskins? We asked folks who cover the team their thoughts on the Parker signing and what it may mean for Portis. We begin with our editor.

John Pappas – Warpath Confidential

Whatever it means, it is not good for Portis and his future in Washington. We find it difficult to believe all three will make the opening day roster, or that Parker has been added just to motivate Portis. It is also possible Mike Shanahan has seen something in Portis during offseason workouts that made him want more insurance. Then there is the reality that Portis can be released without cap implications.

We predict only two of the three are on the team in September.

John Keim – Washington Examiner

Because they’re trying to get all the top running backs…from 2006. They also want speed, even though Parker hasn’t shown much explosiveness lately. Portis had better be healthy and in shape. Clearly the Redskins are concerned about him. Portis is better than both – he’s more well-rounded. But he needs to improve his habits.

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CarolinaSkin43

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you think it is possible to use this to motivate Portis and possibly trade one of them down the road even Parker...is Parker better at this point than Portis. I'm scratching my head... Would they trade away Johnson or Parker ? or just Portis ?
 

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I'll say it again - this isn't just about trying to 'motivate' Clinton Portis. If Shanahan really thought he couldn't motivate him, RB additions or not, he'd be gone already. This is much more about the fact that at the end of last season, it wasn't clear that Portis would play football again - period. Forget motivation - the guy had a serious enough brain injury (and that's what a concussion is folks) to call his playing future into serious question.

Portis hasn't played a down since. That kind of question mark at the starting RB position is cause for more than a little concern. Motivation is easy. Having a starter who's 1 more concussion away from mandatory retirement is tough. That's what's driving the addition of Johnson and Parker.
ort
 

Pappas

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you think it is possible to use this to motivate Portis and possibly trade one of them down the road even Parker...is Parker better at this point than Portis. I'm scratching my head... Would they trade away Johnson or Parker ? or just Portis ?
Here's the thing with your supposition: both Johnson and Parker were on the open market for some time. Teams could have signed them (as Washington did) without having to give up anything other than their salary.

Why would teams now trade draft picks or players to get them? I'm not saying they had no offers from other teams, but if they were in that much of demand they would have been gobbled up week 1 of free agency.
 

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I'll say it again - this isn't just about trying to 'motivate' Clinton Portis. If Shanahan really thought he couldn't motivate him, RB additions or not, he'd be gone already. This is much more about the fact that at the end of last season, it wasn't clear that Portis would play football again - period. Forget motivation - the guy had a serious enough brain injury (and that's what a concussion is folks) to call his playing future into serious question.

Portis hasn't played a down since. That kind of question mark at the starting RB position is cause for more than a little concern. Motivation is easy. Having a starter who's 1 more concussion away from mandatory retirement is tough. That's what's driving the addition of Johnson and Parker.
ort
While I have no proof to support this assertion, I am of the belief that Portis could have been back on the field last year. I believe his injury, although a legitimate acute injury, was not as lingering as he made it out to be. I think he just didn't want to play anymore.
I am not saying these moves aren't as you say. I just don't buy that Portis was as injured as he let on.
 

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While I have no proof to support this assertion, I am of the belief that Portis could have been back on the field last year. I believe his injury, although a legitimate acute injury, was not as lingering as he made it out to be. I think he just didn't want to play anymore.
I am not saying these moves aren't as you say. I just don't buy that Portis was as injured as he let on.

I gotta agree with Boone on this one. These guys are insurance policies against possibly damaged goods.

And as you said, you have no proof, just speculation on your part. I gotta believe Shanahan is just doin' a CYA.
 

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Bill, I don't dispute the insurance policy idea. I think bringing these guys in only helps since we didn't waste picks or large guaranteed contracts to pick up solid players.

What I don't buy is that Clinton Portis' injury should have kept him out for the remainder of the year. It is my contention he played it so he did not have to return for such a sorry team.
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I don't think Portis had any control over when he 'came back'. The NFL is all over concussions and potential brain injury. I suspect he was simply following medical direction, which rightfully advises against risking permanent brain injury vs. early return post-concussion.

If you think players decide *when* they come back post-concussion, I think you're probably not current with NFL policy. Physicians decide those matters, not players - period. Portis is a drama queen and a lot more, but I don't think laying staying out last season on him is based on the facts.

And if you accept that, you accept his post-concussion situation is a lot more tenuous than most Redskins fans know. And it may put our post-season RB acquisitions in an entirely different light :)
 

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I agree with Boone on this one. The NFL has been concentrating a lot recently on concussions for good reason, they are more than just season or potential career ending injuries-the physical damage to the brain done by multiple concussions can be devastating. I, for one, believe that the potential life-altering nature of such a brain injury, especially in multiple occurrences is part of the equation. Portis as an RB is now operating under the cloud of a potential health risk to himself that could affect more than just his football career. I wouldn't want to be the one to tell him to play unless the doctors had assured me that the risk of permanent damage as the result of a second, or perhaps third, concussion was minimal. The acquisition of extra RBs under the circumstances just makes sense.
 

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Boone, every player has some control over their return. They could lie to the medical staff and hide their symptoms to get back out on the field or they could exaggerate them so they don't have to play for a sorry ass team like our Redskins were last year. I think Portis did the latter. After playing his heart out for this team for years, I believe he gave up and sat it out using the NFL's emphasis on head injuries as his ticket out.

Again, I agree with what you say about bringing in Willie and Johnson, it is more than likely an insurance policy in case Portis' is not ready to go or goes down quickly, but you cannot deny there is almost assuredly an element of Portis' behavior that is at least playing part in this.
 

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I have to think Portis would have done anything to get back on the field had we been in a playoff chase. Since we sucked, he had no incentive to go against the grain or "doctors orders".

While I understand the NFL taking a hard line on concussions, and there are a few former players who may not be right in the head since they retired, there are a whole lot more guys who came back from concussions and have suffered no ill effects. Are they serious business? Sure, but the NFL is also making sure they err on the side of extreme caution. Maybe it's just anti-Portis bias on my part but I can't help but think he was milking it for all it was worth.

As for our two new "Private Parts", they could very well be insurance against Portis getting hurt or knocked in the head again. I'm more inclined to think Portis is on a very short leash and his days are numbered. It may sound a little harsh but my guess is, the next time he complains of a headache or slightly blurry vision, he gets an injury settlement and a pink slip. I'd be very surprised if there were any wiggle room at all.
 

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It is also possible that the coaches didn't want Portis back. He had bone spur issues before the concussion, as I recall. It is very possible that being in the position the team was in, Zorn decided to shut him down over the concussion.

There are a lot of factors that went into his not playing that we don't know and may never know.
 

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Here's what I see:

Over his 14 years in Denver, Shanahan has started a rookie 5 times. He played Terell Davis his first 4 years ('95 to '98), then played rookie OLandis Gary in '99. In 2000 he started Rookie Mike Anderson, on o1 platooned Anderson and Davis, then in 02 started Rookie Clinton Portis. Portis played for two years, then Droughns was the primary back. He was a 4th year player but had sat behind other RBs for two years and only had 40 carries total before he started.

In '05 Anderson resurfaces (5th season), is the leading carrier but splits time with 2nd year guy Tatum Bell, and in '06 Bell becomes the primary back. In '07 Selvin Young is the primary ball carrier, and in '08, Young, rookie Peyton Hillis, and geriatric Michael Pittman share the load.

Except for very rare occasions, Shanahan has preferred young legs. He'll go with a rookie and run him until he's injured or perhaps his first non-rookie contract comes up.

So I'm having a real hard time reconciling the three guys we currently have and who appear to vying for the featured back slot, and Shanahan's history.

My guess is that our running back either isn't yet on the roster, or is buried deep someplace.
 

riggins44

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I wonder with off-season workouts in full swing and Shanahan getting to know everyone a little beter, if he hasn't heard talk from players regarding Portis' attitude. Could Johnson and Parker be brought in as insurance against a cancer?
 

China

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It's also about depth. Seriously, who were the running backs on the Redskins roster before Johnson and Parker were hired?
 

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It's also about depth. Seriously, who were the running backs on the Redskins roster before Johnson and Parker were hired?
Depth could have been accomplished in the 4th round (yesterday I would have said 2nd or 4th). I still think we will go after another RB in the 4th round, if we can pick up extra picks via trade to address the O-line. I can't see all 3 of these RB's on the roster at the start of the season.
 

China

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Depth could have been accomplished in the 4th round (yesterday I would have said 2nd or 4th). I still think we will go after another RB in the 4th round, if we can pick up extra picks via trade to address the O-line. I can't see all 3 of these RB's on the roster at the start of the season.
I'm fine with a RB in the fourth round. Get some young legs to challenge these geezers. But you need several backs, and we couldn't get them all in the draft, especially with our needs on the OL.
 

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