Redskins' running backs still can't find end zone

Ravens & Nfl

September 23, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

ASHBURN, VA. -- Lost in the euphoria of the Washington Redskins' 2-0 start is a smidgen of concern that an offense that features running back Clinton Portis has yet to score a rushing touchdown.

While Washington is one of 10 teams in the league that hasn't crossed the goal line on the ground, the Redskins and the Jacksonville Jaguars are the only teams averaging at least 100 yards via the running game that haven't scored a rushing touchdown.

The statistic didn't escape the attention of Washington coach Joe Gibbs.

"We should be a good rushing football team, but you have to make it happen," said Gibbs, who coached two of the franchise's top three single-season leaders in rushing touchdowns (John Riggins compiled 24 in 1983 and George Rogers had 18 in 1986). "It sure would help us some to jump in there with some rushing touchdowns. It is something we need."

The offense posted more than 100 rushing yards against both the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys but couldn't punch it in. The Redskins went 0-for-3 inside Chicago's 20-yard line, settling instead for three field goals.

Dallas kept Washington out of the red zone, but the team used two Santana Moss touchdown receptions to forge a 14-13 victory over the Cowboys on Monday night.

So far, Portis, who scored five touchdowns last year after totaling 29 in his first two seasons with the Denver Broncos, isn't worried.

"I know I'm going to get there soon. But we only put up [23] points in two games," said Portis, who experienced a similar stretch in the first two games of his rookie year. "Santana's the only one who has gotten into the end zone so far. I know mine is going to come. We've got 14 straight games, so I'm sure I'm going to find a groove somewhere up in there and get into the end zone."

For the second time in three years, defensive tackle Brandon Noble's season ended before it seemingly started.

The team placed the veteran, who is in his seventh year, on injured reserve yesterday. Noble, who missed the entire 2003 season with torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee, underwent arthroscopic surgery on the same knee last week to clean out loose cartilage. During the operation, doctors discovered a bone bruise.

"It's a decision we didn't want to make because he's a big part of the team," Gibbs said, adding that Noble would assist defensive coordinator and line coach Greg Blache. "We'll keep him in that capacity and get him healed up. At the end of the year, we can make a decision about next year."

Rookie defensive tackle Aki Jones was promoted from the practice squad, while linebacker Nick McNeil was signed to the practice squad.

Jones' journey from Fordham to the NFL began when he was invited to the team's rookie camp on April 30. On the eve of the camp, he arrived at Redskins Park after employees had left for the weekend. With no money and nowhere else to go, Jones camped out next to the front door of the team's practice facility.

"I had no other choice," recalled Jones, who was there for about 90 minutes before being discovered by team owner Daniel Snyder. An employee took Jones to a local hotel.

"It's just been a thrill to be here," Jones said. "I just got my foot in the door, and I'm just trying to keep the door wide open."

Note -- Safeties Sean Taylor (shoulder) and Pierson Prioleau (hamstring), middle linebacker Lemar Marshall (groin), offensive tackle Jon Jansen (thumbs) and tight end Robert Royal (fibula) did not participate in yesterday's practice.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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