Redskins running back Alfred Morris had a season-high 16 carries against the Raiders, but he left early with a rib injury. (David Seelig/AP)

After shocking the NFL during his rookie season by rushing for

1,613 yards, Alfred Morris hasn’t been much of a factor so far in 2013, although he can hardly be blamed for his slow start.

Due to a combination of the Redskins being forced to abandon the running game because of large deficits and a rib injury he suffered in Week 4 against Oakland, Morris heads into Sunday night’s showdown against Dallas with just

296 yards on 56 carries, a far cry from the workload that the affable back craves or that Washington needs to be successful.

“It sucks,” he said of leaving the game against the Raiders two weeks ago. “It’s only the second time I haven’t finished a game. I definitely hated it because I wanted to keep helping my team win.”

Morris was expected to be a huge element of the Washington attack, which was the top-ranked ground game last season. But with quarterback Robert Griffin III running less and passing more, both due to design and game situations, the opportunities have not been available for the running back to take over a game. Morris’ 16 carries against the Raiders represented a season high.

“He can’t dictate how many times he gets ball — [it comes down to] the flow of the game, if you’re ahead or behind,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “So he’s a pretty smart guy. He understands those carries will come, and when they do come, he wants to take advantage of the opportunities.”

Shanahan, however, is well known for his capriciousness at the running back position, and after Roy Helu played well in spelling Morris, there is a possibility that Helu might begin to eat into Morris’ playing time.

Morris isn’t concerned about cementing his No. 1 role.

“I have to continue be a complete back,” he said. “I just have to be the best runner I can be. At the same time, if he wants to put another back in, I’m not going to get upset. If it’s going to help the team win, that’s fine by me.”

Morris has proclaimed his ribs are healthy, and he would love to duplicate on Sunday his 33-carry, 200-yard effort against Dallas in Week 17 of last season.

“My ribs are fine. If they want to take shots at me, that’s fine,” he said. “They can’t just key on one person. If they do, that’s a mistake on their part.

“If you’re going to beat anybody, you have to beat the Cowboys. That’s just the way it goes.”


Three Questions With … Kicker Kai Forbath

1. How do you know you’re ready to return from your groin injury?

“There are different sorts of exercises where we kind of see things progressing and getting better. First, it was hurting and then we stepped it up and did more until we got to the point where it was good enough to test it, and it felt good.”

2. Are you happy about making your return indoors at AT&T Stadium?

“Oh yeah. As far as stadiums go, that’s a good one to kick in. The turf’s good. The ball flies in there. I’m not too angry about having that be the first place we come back and play at.”

3. Where are the worst places to kick?

“Anytime you have to kick off a baseball field, it’s not great.”