Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris was a revelation to the NFL world in 2012. The unheralded sixth-round pick rushed for 1,613 yards, arguably becoming the Redskins’ most productive performer on offense. Of course, this isn’t a knock against superstar quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is the undisputed leader of the offense and is expected to lead Washington for many years to come.
While Morris doesn’t have a snazzy nickname like Griffin (“RG3”), he’s every bit as important to Washington’s high-octane offense. Let’s go back to the 2012 preseason. Griffin came to the Redskins knowing he was the starter. Morris came in with veteran running backs Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster ahead of him on the depth chart. Morris would be lucky to even make the team, much less receive any playing time.
Not only did Morris win the starting job during 2012 training camp, he became the Redskins’ most reliable offensive performer by playing in all 16 games. He compiled seven games of at least 100 rushing yards, while tallying fewer that 60 rushing yards in a game only twice. Morris was the tough, bruising featured back that Washington hasn’t had on its roster in quite some time. He has the ability to run over defenders to gain extra yards. He also has the speed to turn the corner and run outside the hash marks for long gains as well.
In addition, Griffin is coming off right ACL surgery. Redskins fans hope he’ll be ready for Washington’s season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 9. However, no one really knows for sure. There’s no question that Morris will be physically and mentally ready to play against the Eagles. If Griffin somehow can’t play in the season opener, Morris will have to carry the offensive burden in the star quarterback’s absence.
Morris appears to be up to the task. What makes him special is his approach to the game. He seems to be an affable, humble man who doesn’t take his status as the Redskins’ starting running back for granted. He still drives his 1991 Mazda 626 instead of a newer, flashier car. Morris also gives the impression that he still hasn’t earned his starting position at running back. Washington has a crowded backfield with Morris, Helu Jr. and Royster, as well as rookies Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison. It’s possible that the Redskins’ other running backs could have a great preseason and supplant Morris as the starter.
However, that won’t happen. Morris has fought long and hard for the opportunity he’s earned. He’ll fight even harder to repel the complacency that’s bound to set in after his successful rookie season. Griffin is the Redskins’ best player, and it is his health and ability to return to the great status he enjoyed last season which will dictate how good Washington will be in 2013. However, Washington has no chance of coming close to matching last year’s win total of 10 without Morris in the lineup. If Morris can continue his solid, professional approach, the Redskins will remain a force to be reckoned with in 2013.