Can Portis Fight Off History?

Old running backs usually just fade away

How much more does Clinton Portis have left in the tank?

After the first half of last season, and the almost 900 yards of rushing, the answer was so obvious, nobody even asked.  But his second half was riddled by injuries, an ineffective offensive line and seemingly a change in gameplan by the coaching staff, netting Portis only about 500 yards.

So coming into the season, which Portis is it going to be?  The Pro Bowl running back of the first half?  Or the old man of the second?

Portis is definitely betting on the first, telling the Post that "I probably got a great five years left in me."

That doesn't seem likely, though.  Few running backs with as much mileage as Portis has on his body are able to stay healthy and productive, as the Post argues.

"The evidence does not suggest that the next five years will be as productive as the last five. Consider that of the nine most-used running backs in 2004, Portis's first year with the Redskins, six are out of football. Portis and San Diego's Tomlinson are the only players who remain starters, and even Tomlinson is losing time to the young, spry Darren Sproles...

"[O]f the 26 players in history who have rushed for more than Portis's 9,202 career yards, only six have had seasons of at least 1,487 yards after their 28th birthdays -- Walter Payton, Sanders and O.J. Simpson (twice); Curtis Martin and Jim Brown (once each); and Tiki Barber, who did it four times. But before Barber turned 28, he had only 933 career carries. Portis has 2,052."

Portis, to his credit, seems to be acknowledging it. He's working harder in camp, doing the things the team is asking him to do.  Offensive Coordinator Sherman Smith seems happy, saying, "He's just working at a higher level of intensity than he has before, than he's used to."

Will that higher level of intensity (or an improved offensive line) allow Portis to buck the trend of older running backs? Skins fans certainly hope the answer is "yes."

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