Redskins’ Alfred Morris makes receiving a priority

August 22

Redskins running back Alfred Morris has only 20 catches in two NFL seasons. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Even with everything that Alfred Morris has accomplished during his time with the Redskins, the Pro Bowl third-year back isn’t satisfied with his all-around game.

Morris spent most of his offseason and training camp molding his mind and body to become a better receiver out of the backfield, which will make him more valuable in new coach Jay Gruden’s offense.

“I have been wanting to do this for quite some time,” Morris said, “so I’m thankful that they are allowing me to do it, giving me chances, and building that trust and confidence in me.”

Over his two-year career, Morris has hauled in just 20 passes for 155 yards, as the Redskins have preferred to use speedier backs like Roy Helu in pass-catching situations. But Morris has put in the effort to prove he can be more effective in the passing game in Washington’s new-look scheme.

“It’s a confidence thing. You have to work on the little details, like making sure you look [the ball] in and getting your fingers wrapped around the ball,” he said. “It’s even the things such as route running. Being able to keep that separation from a defender and not letting him undercut you will definitely help.”

Morris says that most of the work in becoming a solid receiver comes before the ball is in the air.

“It really starts as soon as the ball is snapped,” he said. “The last part is catching the ball. You have to make sure of the alignment, your assignment, you have to make adjustments depending on how the defense is playing you. A lot goes into it before you even get to the catching part.”

Morris looked sharp in camp drills, making quick cuts to get open and showing soft hands while pulling in passes. He has jumped in with the receivers during practice to get in extra work and has become accustomed to the speed of the ball from Robert Griffin III.

The running back’s development as a receiver comes as no surprise to Gruden.

“Alfred is steady Eddie. He just comes to work every day,” Gruden said. “Just everything about him is impressive to me — the way he prepares, the way he works, the way he practices.”

So far, it seems like Morris’ mission is paying dividends, giving the Redskins another option in an offense seemingly bursting with targets.

“He’s catching everything,” fullback Darrel Young said.

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