1. When Mike Shanahan scouted running back Clinton Portis before the 2002 draft, one thought popped into his head.
“I thought, ‘This guy is the most physical back I’ve ever been around,’ “ Shanahan said. “The way he would pass protect he was just so tough. It doesn’t matter if it was a linebacker or defensive lineman, he was going to stick his face in there.”
Portis will officially retire Thursday with a press conference at Redskins Park. Shanahan drafted him in Denver in the second round, then traded him to Washington three years later in exchange for a second-rounder and corner Champ Bailey. And Shanahan coached him one more year in Washington.
“He did such a great job running for us and had so many big plays,” Shanahan said. “Even though it was the end of his career he was still as tough as he always was. A natural leader. I really enjoyed being around him.”
2. Linebacker London Fletcher appreciated Portis’ ability to pick up blitzes.
“Anytime a team was facing the Redskins,” Fletcher said, “and linebackers when they’re watching film and when they think about going in there blitzing, they’d go in there with a different mindset knowing this guy can put me on my back. Often times he’d abort his assignment and get out on a pass route to pick up a free rusher so a lot of times it wasn’t his responsibility when he’d come back and get a lineman who had a beeline to the quarterback.
“But don’t lose sight of his ability to run the ball.”
3. Fletcher said Portis would make a good broadcaster someday.
“He can give insight,” Fletcher said. “He’ll speak the truth as far as from his standpoint. A lot of times guys go into the media and don’t want to ruffle feathers or say anything controversial. That won’t be an issue with Clinton.”
4. Shanahan said he’ll keep more than 25 players on one side of the ball if that’s what needs to happen. So there’s a chance he’ll keep 26 offensive players, 24 on defense and three specialists. He also said he won’t keep a player just as insurance in case Trent Williams or Fred Davis fail another drug test and receive a year-long suspension.
“I trust both of them,” Shanahan said. “I’d be very disappointed if they let me down or their teammates down. I really don’t think along those lines.”
5. Shanahan on corner DeAngelo Hall playing safety: “He has the ability to play either safety position because he’s tough enough, he’s smart enough. He’s a ballhawk. He’ll probably make more plays at safety at either strong safety or free safety than at corner… Some corners have that natural ability to make plays. Not too many guys can do that.”