In RG3’s shadow is Morris, Redskins’ other rookie
On third-and-one, Robert Griffin III faked an up-the-middle
handoff to Alfred Morris – and the New York Giants fell for it
”They all just crashed down on me,” Morris said. ”When that
happens, I really just laugh in the pile. `Ha, ha.’ I was thinking,
like, `Y’all dumb, y’all tackled me, but the quarterback is running
down the field.”’
Morris’ acting job on Griffin’s 46-yard scamper might have been
the best example of how the Washington Redskins rookie backfield
tandem is driving defenses crazy. It’s hard enough to account for a
dual-threat quarterback with world-class speed, but there’s also
the sixth-round draft pick from Florida Atlantic who is tied for
third in the NFL with 1,106 yards rushing.
In another time or place, Morris would be the newest sensation –
the kid who emerges from an 1-11 college team and instantly becomes
a cog in the No. 1 rushing offense in the pros.
Instead, he’s been eclipsed by the supernova known as RG3.
”It’s a good thing for me, because I really don’t like the
limelight,” Morris said. ”I just love playing the game. I don’t
really need any outside attention. Not to say dump it on him, but
he can have it all.
”People feel like I’m in the shadow – I don’t feel like I’m in
the shadow. I’m thankful that he’s my quarterback. And I’m glad
that we get an opportunity to be rookies together, to grow
together. I hope it’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship,
and that it goes on for quite some time.”
That’s not to say Morris is shy or withdrawn. He talks a
mile-a-minute, especially when the topic turns to old cars or
movies, but he’ll happily settle for the occasional ”You da man!”
shout-out when he’s out in the community when compared to the
nonstop adulation heaped on Griffin.
”Robert, he can’t go anywhere,” Morris said. ”I’m surprised
he even makes it to the movies.”
Morris also knows his road to NFL success was hardly guaranteed.
He was far from a sure bet to make the roster when he arrived at
training camp to compete with Tim Hightower, Roy Helu Jr. and Evan
Royster. A 107-yard preseason effort against the Indianapolis
Colts, who were playing their starters for much of the game, put
Morris in the running for the starting job and confirmed to him
that: ”I know for a fact I can do this.”
Now he has five 100-yard rushing games, including a season-best
124 in Monday night’s 17-16 win over the Giants that raised
Washington’s record to 6-6 ahead of Sunday’s game against the
”I didn’t think I’d touch the field until around the fifth or
sixth game,” Morris said. ”Maybe I’d get in there and get a
couple of snaps. If I told you I’d known it was going to happen
this fast, it would have been a lie. But I’m just thankful that it
Morris has also become known for his 1991 Mazda, affectionately
known as ”Bentley.” He thought he was going to have to park it
for the winter when the battery died while he away for a few days
after Thanksgiving, but a warm spell has persuaded him to keep
driving it to Redskins Park every day.
If ”Bentley” does give him more trouble, Morris said he’ll
probably lease a car or get a ride from his roommate, a friend from
middle school who happens to work at a pharmacy in the area.
Morris’ dream car, however, is a 1964 Impala.
”I’m going to get one, one of these days,” Morris said. ”I
want to build my ’64 Impala from the ground up.”
If the Impala runs as well as its owner, it’ll be in good shape.
Morris averages 4.8 yards per carry with a long of 39. The book on
him is that he’ll take a play that’s blocked for three yards and
get six, but that he’s not someone who will break one for 60.
”They keep saying that,” Morris said. ”But don’t be surprised
if it happens.”
Morris is also emphatic that he’s not going to hit the so-called
rookie wall, having learned the rigors of life in the pros in a
”All the stuff I didn’t do in college, I do now,” Morris said.
”I never stretched in college. I was stiff as a board. … I’m not
going to hit a rookie wall. I don’t mean that to be, like, arrogant
or anything. It’s the truth. I’ve been taking care of my body, and
mentally I’m prepared for anything.”
And, while Griffin continues to get most of the publicity,
Morris is also learning more about the role model responsibility
that comes with being a productive NFL player. He shared a letter
he received this week from the family of Michael Denis Morlino, a
Redskins fan from Virginia who died in October at the age of
”He just took a liking to me,” Morris said. ”I don’t know
Morris said he plans to frame the letter. He said he was
particularly touched by a quote Michael’s family found written in
pencil on a piece of paper in the boy’s room: ”Arrogance leads to
failure. Success is derived from patience and humility.”
”So much negative stuff going around,” Morris said. ”Kids
need someone positive to look up to.”
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