Clinton Portis, in shape and motivated, will enter camp determined

Don't be surprised if Clinton Portis is among the top candidates for this season's NFL comeback player of the year award.

Although Portis has said little about his personal goals for 2010, the eight-year veteran is determined to show he's still an elite back capable of rushing for a 1,500-yard season, people familiar with his thinking said recently. Eager to prove his critics wrong, Portis has done everything Coach Mike Shanahan has asked of him, team sources said, and is expected to hold off fellow Pro Bowl backs Larry Johnson and Willie Parker for the starting job. Portis has surprised many in the organization with his positive outlook and hard work throughout the offseason program.

As many Insider readers are aware, I've been critical of Portis because of his lackadaisical approach toward practice, among other things. But he was energized by the firing of former coach Jim Zorn and the hiring of Shanahan, whom Portis played under during his first two (and best) seasons in the league, and will approach training camp and the preseason with enthusiasm, he has told several players.

In fact, after Shanahan in March publicly challenged Portis to improve his conditioning, Portis trimmed down to about 217 pounds after playing at more than 230 pounds last season, sources said. Portis's strong showing apparently has made a favorable impression on Shanahan.

To be sure, Johnson and Parker will have opportunities to unseat Portis when camp opens July 29 at Redskins Park. Portis, however, is in top shape and highly motivated.

He's also guaranteed $6.4 million of his $7.2 million base salary, so management presumably would prefer for Portis to be highly productive after a concussion cut short his ineffective 2009 season.

I'm scheduled to be part of today's panel on Comcast SportsNet's Washington Post Live with Ivan Carter. I'm sure we'll talk about the Redskins. We always do. Later.

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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