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Washington Redskins Could Have Dynamic Rookie Duo with Griffin and Morris

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 25:  Alfred Morris #46 celebrates with Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during a preseason game at FedExField on August 25, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 26, 2012

All of the attention this offseason in Washington has rightly been on one Robert Lee Griffin III, whom the Redskins went all in on in April. They sacrificed four primo draft picks in order to secure the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Baylor.

And early indications continue to reveal that Griffin is on track to become the team's first franchise pivot since Joe Theismann.

Griffin had another stellar preseason outing Saturday night against fellow blue-chip rookie signal caller Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. He displayed his ability to go deep, narrowly missing a couple of bombs, and looked poised on his only scramble.

The 'Skins aren't making him do too much this preseason, but it's a great sign that he's been sacked only three times in three games and has yet to throw an interception. Through three preseason games, RG3 now has a 103.3 passer rating and a completion percentage of 64.5.

So yes, it appears we're ready to begin this new era of Redskins football. But it's also becoming apparent that Griffin won't be the only rookie who will have an immediate impact on the Washington offense. 

That's because sixth-round pick Alfred Morris has come out of nowhere to emerge as the team's offensive MVP of the preseason. His best game thus far came Saturday night against the Colts, when the Florida Atlantic product picked up 107 yards on 14 carries. 

But what you see in the box score doesn't do it justice. This offensive line isn't in particularly good shape, and Morris keeps turning one-yard losses into three-yard gains. He's the kind of back who gains positive yardage with or without a hole.

He hasn't been hitting home runs this preseason, but Morris did have three runs of 17-plus yards against Indy. On his two-yard touchdown run, it looked as though he'd be stopped in the backfield, but he got low, didn't stop moving his feet and drove through defenders into the end zone. 

He's the exact type of back a guy like RG3 needs supporting him—a hard north-to-south runner with tackle-breaking instincts and the size to keep contributing in battering-ram form play after play.

That last quality might be the key. Tim Hightower, Evan Royster and Roy Helu have each had their moments, but they've either lacked consistency or the ability to stay on the field, or both. And for Griffin to get into a comfortable routine this season and beyond, it would help if he could be supported by a back capable of being relied upon on a weekly basis.

Morris might be that guy.

He's still technically in the No. 4 spot on the team's depth chart, but Hightower, Royster and Helu have all been dealing with injuries this summer, and I don't think anyone expects any of those players can become a true No. 1 back. Morris strikes me as the kind of guy who can.

It might not happen overnight, and the Shanahans are sure to give lots of carries to lots of different backs this season. But Mike and Kyle are well known for favoring the hottest hand, and with two weeks to go until the 'Skins open the season in New Orleans, Morris is clearly in the driver's seat.

I'm not saying Griffin and Morris will become stars together. That's impossible to predict. And yes, I realize that Morris was passed on 172 times in April's draft. But great backs have come from far less glorified backgrounds.

Mike Shanahan has brought along some great backs over the years, but two of his best finds were Terrell David and Mike Anderson, both of whom were sixth-round picks just like Morris.

Saturday night's game against Indianapolis reminded us that for years to come, we'll link Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. But now I'm beginning to believe that Griffin and Alfred Morris will have a chance to gain a similarly special connection.

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