(photo by Brian Murphy)
(While Homer McFanboy is stuck doing … gasp … actual work this week, others have stepped up to fill the void. Thanks to John Pappas of Skinscast for sharing this entry.)
Ladell Betts has been a very stout backup to Clinton Portis at the running back position. Drafted by the Redskins in 2002 in the 2nd round of the NFL draft, Betts has been a valuable addition to the running team. This was especially true in 2006 when Clinton Portis suffered injuries that kept him out half of the season. Betts stepped in and stepped up, finishing the season with 1,154 yards, 53 receptions, and 5 touchdowns.
With a healthy Portis returning in 2007 and 2008, Betts has seen fewer snaps but remains a very dependable compliment. In 2008 Betts suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss three games.
We caught up to him during OTAs last week to see how the knee is doing and how the offense looks for 2009.
How are you these OTAs?
You mean physically?
Physically, mentally, emotionally…
I feel pretty good. I feel like we are coming along fine and as a RB group I think the young guys are starting to learn the plays and myself and Clinton we’re just trying to help them along.
You’ve been in the league for a minute. At this stage of the career you don’t have a lot of miles on you, how are you feeling physically?
Actually I feel pretty good. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to play much of the second half of last year due to the knee injury so I feel pretty fresh right now. The knee injury is healed up so I feel pretty good.
Are you tentative at all with the knee?
No not at all. Honestly I don’t even think about it any more. We’ve been doing offseason training, drills, and our conditioning tests, we’re out here for OTAs, minicamps so that a far gone thought.
So what about when you get in your first game, you gonna think about it or no?
No, not at all. I mean, I don’t even feel anything. It’s like I never had it.
The defense made a lot of additions this offseason. You guys of course got [offensive lineman Derrick] Dockery back which should help the run game. Give me like a status of the offense so far through the OTAs. Last year you guys struggled in some areas like scoring. Give me your assessment of the offense.
I think right now we are much further along than we were at this point last year. Guys know where to line up, guys know what to do, now it’s just a matter of executing better and that’s what we’re tryin to do out here in OTAs. Execute better so that when it comes game-time we are more effective and put some points on the board. I think we’re headed in the right direction; we just need a couple of the young guys to step up. They’re going to play a big role for us this year. We’ll see what happens.
You talked about young guys, you had some new receivers last year who were rookies. Of course you are a running back but you have watched their work, do you think some are going to develop?
I think so. Two guys that jump out to me right off the bat are Devon [Thomas] and Malcolm [Kelly]. Malcolm wasn’t able to play much last year because of his knee and now Devon has got a year under his belt. Those guys are coming back this year and they are hungry and I’m sure they read all the press clippings, you know; people saying they need to step up and question marks. They’ve got a sense of pride and they want to step up for themselves and for this team. I think they will.
It’s not unusual for a rookie receiver to take a while to develop is it?
No, not at all because the coverages and defensive schemes are much different on this level than they are in college. It’s not just athletic ability it’s smarts and knowing what to do in the right situations at this level. Hopefully they can get that down and be able to contribute for us.
We had a lot of rumors about quarterbacks this offseason, first [Jay] Cutler and then [Mark]Sanchez. What’s the attitude on offense? Do you guys even think about that stuff? Is it just a reality of the game?
It’s just the reality of the game. In this business there is always going to be rumors and whispers. Everybody wants the new toy that’s coming in town. Everybody wants somebody to replace you. That’s just the nature of the business. I haven’t heard any of that talk since the talk died out. Since then Jason’s stepped up and became the leader and we’re just moving forward.