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Morris Hits Ground Running In NFL Backfield

Posted Jun 19, 2012

No longer the big fish in a small pond at Florida Atlantic, running back Alfred Morris has a chance to carve out a role in the Redskins running game, at lead or trail back.

At Florida Atlantic University, running back Alfred Morris became the school’s all-time leading rusher in a power-I scheme that emphasized upfield blocking and fullback play.

With the Redskins, he will need to change his mentality and running style, to adjust to head coach Mike Shanahan’s one-cut, zone-blocking scheme.

“He does a lot more zone than my offense did,” Morris told Redskins Nation’s Larry Michael.  “We did do zone, but it’s a little different from my playbook.”

Morris was an unheralded prospect out of a small school, but caught the Redskins' attention with a strong performance at the NFL Combine. 

Successful backs in Shanahan’s zone scheme have typically been one-cut-and-go backs, which is exactly what Shanahan saw in Morris.

“He has the ability to make people miss, has great lateral quickness, can cut on a dime,” Shanahan explained.  “Now we get a chance to see how he’ll come in and compete with the other backs.”

With myriad options and fragile health at the running back position, the preseason competition figures to be fierce.  Even for those that lose the competition, opportunities usually arise.

 “As we have proven through the years, a lot of times you’re going to need four or five guys to go through the season,” Shanahan said.  The Redskins used six running backs and 12 ball-carriers on offense in 2011.

One way that Morris sets himself apart from the field is his ability to play either fullback and tailback in the Redskins offense.  With Mike Sellers gone from the team and Darrel Young battling injuries in 2011, Morris could also get the opportunity at lead blocker.

At either position, Morris will have no issue picking up blitzes and helping keep rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III on his feet.

“I actually take pride in it,” Morris said of his pass protection.  “I always said to myself that everyone can run the ball and catch the ball, but what will set you apart from everyone else? So I started taking pride in my blocking.

“I take it as a challenge.  I blocked a lot of defensive ends in the kind of set that we had.  The only thing standing between me and him and the quarterback and a sack is me, and I took pride and I never let anybody touch my quarterback.”




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