Rookie Alfred Morris often states his desire to become a complete NFL running back. His promotion to third-down back in Sunday’s 31-6 win over Philadelphia was an important step toward that goal.
Coach Mike Shanahan replaced second-year running back Evan Royster with Morris, and Morris played nine of the Redskins’ 11 third downs.
“He told me he was going to give me an opportunity to do it, and I really am thankful because he’s trying to help me become a complete back,” Morris said. “I thank coach for believing in me.”
Morris did a variety of things on third downs. He picked up a pass rush only one time. His cut block against LB DeMeco Ryans that helped open a lane for quarterback Robert Griffin III to hit receiver Joshua Morgan on a slant for 6 yards on third-and-7 in the second quarter.
“I didn’t really see no pressure, so that was kind of unfortunate because I wanted to work on it,” Morris said.
Morris carried once on third down for a loss of five yards. He ran pass routes from the backfield on four third downs. He ran a route from a wide receiver position once. He served as a decoy on a quarterback sneak. And he once blocked Ryan, who appeared to be spying Griffin.
Morris also committed one of his two false start penalties on a third-and-9 in the third quarter. Griffin bailed him out on the next play by scrambling for 23 yards.
“It was just me being too antsy,” Morris said. “I was just so ready to go, and I kind of flinched.”
There were two third downs on which Morris did not play. The Redskins used no running back on the first. On the second, a third-and-12 with 3:51 remaining in the game and the outcome decided, Royster carried for three yards.
“If he can stay healthy and just keep on doing the things he’s done, he will be a big-time back for a lot of years,” Shanahan said. “He’s a special guy.”