Alfred Morris showed what he could do against NFL backups in the Redskins preseason opener in Buffalo.On Saturday night, Coach Mike Shanahan wanted to see what the rookie could do against another teams starters.The reviews were, well, mixed.On the Redskins first play, Morris displayed the one-cut, north-south style that complements Shanahans zone blocking scheme. After a sudden change of direction at the line of scrimmage, Morris burst through the left side and into the secondary for a 21-yard gain. On the next play, Morris ripped off six yards, this time running off the right tackle.It was a stellar start to an outing that ended rather quietly against a stout Bears defense that featured seven-time Pro Bowler Julius Peppers. Morris, a 5 foot 10, 218-pound Florida Atlantic product, finished with 34 yards on 10 carries four yards fewer than he had after his first five carries.I definitely could have played better, said Morris, who did not play in the second half. But it could have been a whole lot worse. I feel I did good overall.Morris was informed Friday by running backs coach Bobby Turner that he would be getting the first start of his young NFL career. With Tim Hightower still recovering from knee surgery and Roy Helu Jr. sidelined with tendinitis in his Achilles tendon, Shanahan wanted to see how Morris would fare against the likes of Peppers, Lance Briggs and Israel Idonije.If youre in the 90, youre in the competition to make the football team, Shanahan said when asked if Morris has a legit chance of claiming the Redskins No. 1 tailback job. I dont have guys out there just to be out there. We started Alfred today, and the reason we started him is that we wanted to see him against a really good defense and against a good unit.After gaining 38 yards on the Redskins first two series, Morris and the rest of the Redskins offense the patchwork line, in particular struggled. Morris was limited to minus-4 yards on his next five carries. Peppers and Idonije each thwarted him for no gain, while strong safety Major Wright dropped him for a two-yard loss and linebacker Blake Costanzo stopped him for three-yard setback.I dont think they made an adjustment; it was just a few things we were missing, Morris said. They have some great d-linemen and they were getting some penetration in the backfield, and that didnt help at all.Morris also accepted the blame for going out for a pass rather than staying home to block on the play where quarterback Robert Griffin III was sacked and fumbled.I had a blitzing safety that I misread, Morris said.As Morris acknowledged, his first NFL start could have been more productive. But also managed to remain philosophical about the steep learning curve hes facing.Life is a lesson, he said. You live and you learn.
Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 17, 100 days before the NFL draft.
—NFL franchise tag deadline 44
—NFL free agency starts 52
—First Sunday of 2017 season 237
A six pack of potential first-round draft picks for the Redskins
We’re at a nice, round 100 days until the NFL draft starts. The deadline for underclassmen to declare has passed and the first of the postseason all-star events, the East-West Shrine game, is starting up this week. It’s time to look at some possibilities for the Redskins’ first-round draft pick, which is No. 17 overall.
—We’re still not sure of what defensive scheme the Redskins will run this year but it’s likely that they could fit Stanford DE Solomon Thomas into it. He’s not the classic edge rusher type but he is big (6-2, 275), violent and he can collapse the pocket.
—Michigan S Jabrill Peppers is a top-five pick according to one NFC executive but it’s a little early to put him up that high. He’s a versatile defender and he has drawn comparisons to Troy Polamalu, Charles Woodson, and Tyrann Mathieu. If he’s there at 17 the Redskins might find it hard to resist pulling the trigger.
—There has been very early buzz about the Redskins having some interest in Michigan State DL Malik McDowell. He can play end in a 3-4 front or tackle in a 4-3 and provide disruption and pass rush from either spot. The 6-6, 276-lb. McDowell was a top-five prospect on many early boards but he stock has slipped to the point where he could be available for the Redskins.
—The upgrade the Redskins are looking for at inside linebacker could be Florida ILB Jarrad Davis. He’s tough, tenacious, smart, and instinctive. The most important part of the combine for him won’t be his 40 time or bench press, it will be the medicals. He has missed some games with assorted injures including a torn meniscus in 2014.
—Another flexible linebacker who could help inside in a 3-4 or outside in a 4-3 is Vanderbilt LG Zach Cunningham. At 6-3, 230 he plays very well in space and he shows a great ability to take on blockers. He needs work on tackling and pass rushing techniques but he has the tools to be an impact defender very quickly.
—Although a defender would be a popular and logical pick here, the Redskins could go off script. After the 2015 draft, it was reported that Scot McCloughan might have taken Todd Gurley if he had been able to trade back from No. 5 overall to a little later in the first round. So I think it would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of him going with an offensive skill player such as Florida State RB Dalvin Cook if he’s on the board and McCloughan has him rated as the best available player.
Tandler on Twitter
It’s an interview, folks. Save the disbelief and outrage for whoever they actually hire.— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) January 16, 2017
In case you missed it
- Report: Redskins to interview ex-Raiders defensive coordinator
- Redskins plan to interview Rob Ryan, per report
- Tandler & JP name Redskins' Defensive Player of the Year
- Projecting the Redskins 2017 roster—Offense
- Cap room a dilemma for Redskins McCloughan?
- Report: Redskins sign CB Tharold Simon
Looking to add depth to their secondary, the Redskins reportedly signed former Seahawks and Cardinals cornerback Tharold Simon on Monday, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.
Source: Washington has signed former Seahawks CB Tharold Simon.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 16, 2017
Arizona claimed Simon off waivers after the Seahawks released him following the first week of the regular season. He played in nine games for the Cardinals and was inactive for his final two with the team, which then released him in December.
A fifth-round pick for the Seahawks in 2013, Simon was signed to a future/reserve contract, allowing him to compete for a roster spot during training camp and offseason workouts.
He is the 11th player to sign a futures contract with the Redskins.
MORE REDSKINS: Washington interviewed Rob Ryan for defensive coordinator