ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 08: Clinton Portis #26 of the Washington Redskins watches from the sidelines after suffering a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 8, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
In the absence of Clinton Portis, who sat out after suffering a concussion against the Falcons the previous week, the Washington Redskins defeated the favored Denver Broncos on the back of a 174 yard rushing performance by Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright. Going into a division game in Dallas, Portis's status is questionable; also questionable though, is whether they really need the former Pro Bowler.
"I don't know what the exact prognosis is," said head coach Jim Zorn in today's Washington Times. "I know he's improving, but with a concussion like most guys have we have to wait and wait properly and wait cautiously to make sure when he comes back he feels good, and we give all of us a good opportunity to be successful when he comes back."
According to the report in the Times, Portis still suffers blurred vision when he turns his head quickly, a poor harbinger for the prospect of his return at Dallas. Zorn went on to say that the veteran's starting job would be waiting for him whenever he could return safely, but with the emergence of Betts--who's run for 184 yards since replacing Portis early against Atlanta--the team has some breathing room, as well as an issue to be sorted out at the position.
At any rate, the issue at hand for Dallas is clear: regardless of Portis's availability, the run defense will be up to a task against the Redskins.
Aside from Betts's performance over the last seven quarters, this last performance has writers across the country and especially in D.C. heralding the return of "Redskins football," a brand of run-first, smashmouth play that will almost undoubtedly carry through to Dallas.
More important for the Cowboys though, is that the Redskins themselves seem to be drinking the kool-aid. They have the weapons, and they seemed primed, now more than ever, to use them.
It will be up to the defense to answer this challenge.