National Football League
Alf, RG3 make the moves in Redskins backfield
National Football League

Alf, RG3 make the moves in Redskins backfield

Published Sep. 13, 2012 10:03 p.m. ET

It isn't easy playing backfield buddy to Robert Griffin III. The ball placed on your numbers for a handoff can suddenly disappear. Take the wrong angle, and suddenly you're playing bumper cars behind the line of scrimmage.

The other rookie in the Washington Redskins starting lineup is sixth-round draft pick Alfred Morris, who overcame a misstep or two to have an NFL debut worth crowing about - if it weren't being overshadowed by Griffin's. While ''RG3'' was piling up 362 all-purpose yards, ''Alf'' ran for 96 on 28 carries and a pair of touchdowns in the 40-32 win over the New Orleans Saints.

''The running back has to get a feel for, not really how I read things, but when I'm giving it and when I'm taking it,'' Griffin said. ''Alf didn't do much of that in college. He was more of a traditional running back from under center, just hand it off to him.''

Nevertheless, Morris took advantage of injuries during training camp to win a starting job, showing off the power, agility and the desire to always fight for the extra yard that made him Florida Atlantic's all-time leading rusher.


But what he had to re-learn was the zone read, the play where the quarterback takes a shotgun snap and decides whether to hand the ball off or yank it back based on a split-second glance at the backside defensive end. Morris was part of such a scheme for all four years at Pine Forest High School in Florida, but he rarely ran it in college.

And, of course, it's uncommon in the pros.

''Just getting a feel, not knowing whether the quarterback is going to pull it or give it to you,'' Morris said. ''It's like riding a bike. Once you learn it, you know it. But you've got to get a refresher course.''

Given the circumstances, coach Mike Shanahan was pleased the first outing in the Griffin-Morris partnership.

''Our running back was a little bit tight in his angles. There were a couple of collisions and a couple of bumps, but that should be expected with a young running back coming in,'' Shanahan said. ''I was really pleased with the way he handled himself.''

Griffin and Morris have been working on smoothing out the kinks this week as they prepare to visit the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. So has the rest of the offense. After all, this stuff is all new to several of the veterans.

''I think we're still figuring out where the ball's supposed to hit and kind of adjusting our blocks accordingly,'' left guard Kory Lichtensteiger said, ''whether it's just continuing to drive the guy off the ball or to try to seal him or whatever. But that's something that we're trying to figure out a little bit more.''

Morris' Week 1 performance has made him a hot pick-up in fantasy football leagues this week. Besides the sudden dose of fame, he's also adjusting to his new nickname. ''Alf'' doesn't quite have the same ring as ''RG3'' - most older people associate the name with a 1980s television series featuring a fluffy alien - but Morris isn't objecting.

''That's something new,'' he said. ''We already have an Al. We already have a Fred. So they call me Alf.''

Notes: Shanahan said WR Pierre Garcon (sore right foot) was ''very limited'' in practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. Garcon declined to stop to speak to reporters, saying he was ''going to get some treatment.'' Aldrick Robinson would be the likely starter if Garcon can't play. ... Lichtensteiger said he felt he played OK in his first game since having left knee surgery. ''After the game,'' he added, ''I felt like I got hit by a piano.''


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