Can Alfred Morris Maintain His Success Through Rest of Rookie Season?

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystOctober 6, 2012

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 30:  Running back Alfred Morris #46 of the Washington Redskins grabs a warmup pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers September 30, 2012 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. ( Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The biggest story surrounding the Washington Redskins so far this season has no doubt been the stellar start to the season by quarterback Robert Griffin, but RG3 isn't the only rookie in the nation's capital who has gotten his NFL career off on the right foot.

Through four games, running back Alfred Morris ranks fifth in the National Football League in rushing, racking up 376 yards and four touchdowns while averaging a robust 4.6 yards a carry.

That's not too shabby from a sixth-round pick from a 1-11 Sun Belt team. After being taken late in April's NFL draft, Morris steadily worked his way up the depth chart during training camp and the preseason, but even the 23-year-old former Florida Atlantic standout admitted to Dan Graziano of ESPN that he was surprised by the speed of his ascension.

"I never would have expected for all of this to happen so soon," Morris said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. "But life's crazy. Some other guys got nicked and bruised, and I got the opportunity to show the coaches what I could do, and they liked it."

It may have been injuries to Evan Royster, Roy Helu and the now departed Tim Hightower that opened the door for Morris to get his chance, but the youngster certainly made the most of his opportunity, beginning with a 107-yard performance on only 14 carries in the Redskins' third preseason game.

Now, after averaging over 90 rushing yards and a touchdown per game, Morris would seem to have an ironclad grip on the starting gig in the Washington backfield, and it doesn't appear he'll be relinquishing that role any time soon.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is simple. With a rookie quarterback under center (even one as talented as Griffin), the Redskins have leaned heavily on the run. Morris has averaged over 20 carries a game so far this year, and that steady diet of touches is both indicative of head coach Mike Shanahan's faith in Morris and affords him the chance to wear opposing defenses down.

The second reason for Morris' early season success lies, quite simply, with Morris. The 5'10", 218-pounder doesn't waste any time getting to the hole, and that one-cut-and-go running style is perfectly suited for Shanahan's offense and the way that Morris has always carried the ball, according to Graziano.

"I've always been a one-cut type of back. I've never been a guy that jukes a lot," Morris said. "I don't like losing yards. That's one of my pet peeves."

Granted, Alfred Morris may not be the flashiest running back in the National Football League, nor is it necessarily realistic to expect him to continue at his current pace and top 1,500 rushing yards.

However, there also hasn't been anything to indicate that Morris' hot start has been a fluke, and so long as he continues to hit the hole with authority and the Redskins continue to hang in games, Washington will continue to reap the rewards of one of the steals of the 2012 NFL draft.