Today, the Redskins are one victory from clinching their first NFC East title in 13 years. Morris, 24, is a chief reason why, spearheading the NFL’s most potent rushing attack (162.3 yards per game).
The most prolific rookie running back in Redskins history, Morris (1,413 yards) is currently the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher, behind Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch and Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles. And with the division title at stake Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, he’ll break Clinton Portis’s single-season Redskins rushing record with another 104 yards — a feat that’s clearly within reach, given that Morris churned out 113 yards and a touchdown in Washington’s 38-31 victory over Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.
Uncomfortable in spotlight
For all his on-field heroics, Morris takes pains not to be the center of attention.
He doesn’t seek out TV cameras or entertain the media with mid-week costume changes, as Portis famously did. His car, a 1991 Mazda 626 that has logged more than 125,000 miles, is as no-nonsense as his running style. And though unfailingly polite, Morris has grown uncomfortable in the spotlight’s glare as his accolades mount, apologizing for his brevity with reporters this week as he anxiously eyed the clock in the locker room, explaining that he didn’t want to be late for the running backs meeting.
“I only have five minutes,” Morris said before accepting congratulations for his selection as a Pro Bowl alternate.
“I guess that’s an accomplishment, being a rookie,” he conceded, “but that was never a goal for me. The only thing I was thinking about was one win at a time.”
It’s that combination of professionalism and humility that goes a long way toward explaining Morris’s standout rookie season, tight end Chris Cooley believes.
“He has the best work ethic of anyone I’ve ever been around,” Cooley said. “We can have a walk-through practice, and Alfred has his cleats taped up and is going full speed. He’s almost running into the linemen’s backs in walk-through practice because he’s full speed. He wants so much to do everything right.”
Just four months ago, Morris was simply grateful to be picked in the late stages of the draft, 173rd overall. “My first individual goal was to make the team,” he recalled. “After that, it was to just climb the depth chart. And I was able to do that faster than expected in the preseason.”