Redskins rookie tailback Alfred Morris isn’t overwhelmingly fast. But the sixth-round draft choice from Florida Atlantic has been fast enough to run for 185 yards in his first two NFL games. And offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Thursday that Morris’s speed is more than sufficient to get the job done.
“I think with those fast guys, those [NFL scouting] combine fast guys, you don’t see as many long runs,” Shanahan said. “Game speed is about carrying your pads, pressing blocks, putting your foot violently in the ground and how much you accelerate out of the cut. Al is a guy that once he puts his foot down, he actually gains momentum from that. He can put his foot in the ground and accelerate out of it and actually run faster out of the cut than he did going into it.
“For a lot of those fast guys, it’s like they’re playing on ice sometimes because it takes them a while to stop and then re-situate their hips and then they get going again. Al is very similar to Terrell Davis in that way. Terrell wasn’t a fast guy. But he hit that hole, and if there was a lane, he hit that crease and he was gone. If a guy was really fast and right behind him, then he’d catch him. But usually he was pressing, making guys over-run the hole and then cutting back. And once you get guys to over-run the hole, they’re not going to catch you.”
The Redskins have been rewarded quickly for giving the starting job to Morris, who seemingly was an afterthought during training camp, when the running back competition seemed to be limited to Tim Hightower, Evan Royster and Roy Helu.
“We saw it [Morris’s running ability] pretty early in training camp,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Back in OTAs [organized team activities, or offseason practices], we were rotating guys around a lot and he had to do a lot of work at fullback. …Once we got to training camp and we … got him in the [tailback] rotation, especially when other guys were down, and he started getting more and more reps, you could see his natural running skills at practice. We just wanted to see if it could carry over to the game. And from the first preseason game on, it has.”