Track record doesn’t favor a Portis revival

After back-to-back seasons in which he missed 19 games because of injuries, Clinton Portis believes he has a lot left in the tank. The latest from Portis is that he would like to take what’s left to the Giants and exact revenge on his former team, the Redskins.

Portis didn’t stop at the Giants when mulling his future, revealing a star-studded wish list of quarterbacks he would like to play with, noting he has regained the speed that “was once dominating and scared so many other opposing teams.”

It’s easy to get Portis’ enthusiasm, but he’ll certainly have skeptics after missing 11 games last season with groin and abdomen injuries and eight games in 2009 with a concussion. Portis also turns 30 — a dreaded threshold for running backs — early next season. History just isn’t on his side.

NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger checked in with his scouting report on Portis.

“He’s clearly a declining player,” Baldinger said. “If you look at his career carries, that’s a lot of wear and tear on a body as an every-down back. He really never split carries, and the injuries have taken their toll. He’ll always be a very tough guy, but he’s not going to make anyone miss, which is crucial in the NFL. He’ll get you the yards that are there, but probably little else. I don’t think he’ll regain the level he wants no matter how he feels.”

To Baldinger’s point, Portis has racked up 325 carries or more in each of the last four seasons in which he played close to a full schedule. His 2,230 career carries rank 26th all-time and put him fifth among active backs.

While it remains to be seen what type of market might exist for Portis’ services, teams don’t hand out big contracts for veteran backs when younger, cheaper options come via the draft or off the street (see LeGarrette Blount, Arian Foster). Even if Portis proves to be completely healthy, he’s likely looking at a situational role — much like LaDainian Tomlinson a year ago — at this point in his career.

Portis might have to wait awhile for a chance to prove any of his doubters wrong.

– Frank Tadych

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