The Washington Redskins will start rookie Alfred Morris at running back, according to csnwashington.com.
Morris, a 2012 sixth round pick who attended college at Florida Atlantic, rushed for 195 yards and a touchdown during the 2012 NFL preseason. He also averaged five yards per carry.
It’s a surprising decision by Washington head coach Mike Shanahan. Morris amassed these gaudy statistics against third and fourth string opposing defenses. Many of these players are probably not on an NFL roster as of this writing. Running backs Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster were on the Redskins’ roster in 2011, and both have appeared in regular season games against top flight competition.
And they were both beaten out by an unheralded sixth round pick in Morris, who seized the opportunity and ran with it.
Shanahan’s decision is reflective of Washington’s new methods of team development. He is about developing and playing young players drafted by the team, regardless of draft status. Simply put, no player’s roster spot (especially a starting player’s spot) is secured. If the sixth round draft pick gives the Redskins the best chance to win, start him. In Shanahan’s mind, Morris won the opportunity to start when Washington faces the New Orleans Saints on September 9th. A positive aspect of Morris’ start for Washington is there is no significant game film on Morris for the Saints to refer to. A negative aspect is that he’s a rookie who hasn’t seen significant playing time in the preseason against top flight competition.
Nevertheless, Morris will get his chance to introduce himself to Redskins’ fans (and the Saints’ defense). Redskins’ fans hope the latest addition to the offense will be able to make a positive contribution against a premier team like the Saints. Shanahan has four new starters on his offensive unit: quarterback Robert Griffin III, wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, and Morris. Shanahan hopes these players in their 20s will form a solid nucleus that can grow into a solid offensive unit for years to come.