Portis looks for bigger role this week in Broncos offense

Updated: October 17, 2003, 8:49 PM ET

DENVER -- Clinton Portis rushed for only 47 yards last Sunday, including an anemic 3.1 yards-per-carry average that was a career low in games he has started.

He hopes it was just an aberration.

The Denver Broncos running back blames a game plan that de-emphasized the run in a 17-14 win over Pittsburgh. As a team, Denver rushed for just 77 yards, a figure that included a 26-yard run on a reverse by wide receiver Rod Smith.

"I don't think we ever really tried to establish the running game," Portis said. "We wanted to spread the field and throw the ball. In the first half I had, like, six carries.

"To get a running game going, you have to get 2 yards here, 3 there, 2, 3, then pop a big one. If you are running the ball only every five or six plays, it's kind of tough to pop a big one because of the run-stop defense."

Asked how involved he will be in the offense in Sunday's game in Minnesota, Portis said, "I am anticipating getting more than 14 carries. I was anticipating getting more than 14 carries (actually 15) last week, but I didn't."

Portis, who ranks fourth in the AFC in rushing with 479 yards and who is averaging 5.7 yards, said the Broncos won't make any significant changes to their game plan to accommodate quarterback Steve Beuerlein, who will start in place of the injured Jake Plummer (broken foot).

"Steve is capable of leading this team and making the kinds of plays that Jake makes with his arm," Portis said. "The only difference is Jake's scrambling ability compared to Steve's.

"Everybody has got to pick up their game. We can't sit and moan about not having Jake. Steve is capable, and we have to go out and play with Steve."

Despite last week's dropoff, the Broncos remain third in the NFL in rushing, averaging 150.5 yards per game.

The Vikings are right behind at 150.2 and rank first in the league in total offense (380.8).


^FULL SQUAD:@ The Broncos had all hands on deck for Friday's practice.

The team listed nine players as "probable" on the injury report, including two new additions -- wide receiver Ed McCaffrey (knee) and defensive tackle Dorsett Davis (ankle).

Safety Kenoy Kennedy, who missed the last three games with a sprained ankle, likely will reclaim his starting job.

"Kenoy has had a good week of practice, much better than he has been the last couple of weeks," coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's looking good and ready to go."

Plummer and linebacker Ian Gold (knee) were both listed as "out," with Plummer likely sidelined for four weeks and Gold out for the season.

As a whole, Shanahan said, "We had a good week of preparation. The guys practiced hard and worked hard, and now we've got to take it over to game day."


^EXTRA POINTS:@ In three of Steve Beuerlein's four starts with Denver, the games have gone down to the wire. He is now 2-2 as a Broncos starter. ... The Broncos have outscored opponents 102-39 in the first half this season. ... The Broncos own the NFL's longest streak with a .500 record or better -- 49 weeks. ... Shanahan is 35-19 against the NFC. ... In his last two games against NFC teams, Clinton Portis has rushed for 364 yards on 47 carries (7.7 average). ... In his last 10 games against NFC teams, WR Rod Smith has 64 receptions for 713 yards and seven TDs. ... Denver's defense is the best in the NFL in preventing third-down conversions (22 of 81, 27.2 percent). ... The Broncos have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season and have allowed only one 100-yard rusher in their last 10 games.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index