The Washington Redskins’ game against the New York Giants will mark the 12th game of Alfred Morris’ NFL career – which would equal a full college football season. But the rookie running back has shown no signs of wearing down.
Morris is coming off of a 24-carry, 113-yard, one-touchdown performance against Dallas — an outing that increased his season total to 989 yards and six touchdowns. The Florida Atlantic product needs just 18 yards to become the Redskins’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Clinton Portis in 2008.
“He hasn’t changed. Whether it’s walk-through or full practice, he’s gone full speed every time. It’s good to see he’s not slowing down after all the carries throughout the year, especially what they talk about the ‘rookie wall.’ He hasn’t hit that and he’s soon to be a 1,000-yard rusher. So we’re extremely proud of him for doing that and going out there and balling out every week.”
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said that Morris’ durability is something that is hard to find in running backs. The coach admitted that when the season opened, although he selected Morris to be the team’s lead back, he had no idea how much the back was capable of.
“He has that type of body. He is 220 pounds. He is strong. He is very physical and he is in excellent shape. They don’t make all bodies like that with that type of power,” Shanahan said. “But if you would have asked me in the beginning of the season if we were going to be ‘running back by committee’, is he a first, second, or third down back, you don’t know any of those things until a guy plays. You can see very early that he was a guy that had the ability to be a first, second, and third down back. And that is what he is getting a chance to do; he is going to be out there until he needs a break. And he can play first, second, or third down. You don’t run across guys like that very often. He is a special kid.”
Morris never experienced serious injury during his high school and college careers, so he didn’t think much about the need for preventive measures for extending his health until he reached the NFL.
However, during OTAs and training camp, veterans like former Redskin Tim Hightower and Washington fullback Darrel Young advised Morris on ways to help his body recover faster from the pounding running backs take in practices and games.
“They gave me a lot of pointers, and showed me the ropes, hot and cold tub, getting a weekly massage,” Morris said. “Listening to those guys, instead of wanting to go home so early, I’m one of the last one out of here, just finding ways to be smart and take care of my body.”
Morris said his focus for Monday night is helping the Redskins to victory rather than reaching the 1,000-yard mark. But considering that he’s only 18 yards shy of that mark, he knows that if he simply does his job, he will reach that milestone with ease.
He admits that it will be special to become a 1,000-yard back as a rookie, however.
“I didn’t [expect it]. To be honest, I thought by my fifth or sixth game, I’d work my way up and eventually get some snaps with the guys in front of me,” Morris said. “But the unexpected opportunity presented itself, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to start and produce my rookie year. … It’d mean a lot, especially coming from where I came from. A lot of people didn’t even expect me to be on the team. But at the same time, the win is what matters.”