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Morris bursts through 'rookie wall'


Morris bursts through 'rookie wall'

The fact that Alfred Morris stands only 18 yards from reaching the milestone mark of 1,000 is a testament to his physical build, durability and work ethic, his coaches said this week. 

“He has that type of body,” Coach Mike Shanahan said. “He’s 220 pounds. He’s strong. He’s very physical and he’s in excellent shape. They don’t make all bodies like that, with that type of power.” 

The 23-year-old rookie ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing yards (982), sixth in attempts (208) and 14th in yards per carry (4.7) for the Redskins, who lead the league in yards on the ground with 1,799. He’s also been handed the ball at least 13 carries in each game.

Morris’ number of attempts is 195 more than the next running back on the Redskins’ roster, Evan Royster, who has 13. Quarterback Robert Griffin III, meantime, has 100 carries for 642 yards.

“That’s been the most impressive thing about him; he’s never hit a rookie wall,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “He runs so hard and I’ve never seen him wear down at all. He’s been strong all year.”

The numbers also show a correlation between the Redskins' record and Morris' workload. They’re 4-1 when he's handed the ball 20 times or more, and 1-5 when he's not. 

Thirteen weeks into his first pro season, there have been no signs of Morris hitting the "rookie wall," the point at which rookie's body wears down from the increased strain and intensity of the longer NFL season. In fact, the sixth round draft pick is coming off one of his busiest weeks of the season. Morris carried the ball 24 times for 113 yards against the Cowboys – only four days after logging 20 attempts against the Eagles.

"You don't know for sure if a guy can carry the load," Mike Shanahan said. "It's hard. You take a lot of punishment as a running back. When you're carrying that ball anywhere from 15 to 30 times a game, it's pretty tough on the body. But you could see it from the first preseason game and through the preseason, he's a special back and he keeps getting better." 

Morris’ career-high of 120 yards came Oct. 21 against the Giants – the Redskins’ opponent Monday night.

“I don’t know if he reminds me of anybody, but ‘The Bus’ comes to mind,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said Wednesday, referring to former Steelers’ running back Jerome Bettis. “He falls forward and gets three yards just from his head of steam.”

Physical gifts and experience aside, there are a couple more reasons Morris' trajectory has continued to rise: He’s learned to take better care of his body and has become a student of the craft.

“If you don’t care of your body in the NFL, especially as a running back, you have no chance,” Kyle Shanahan said. And “he keeps grinding on everything. He’s really quick to correct any mistakes he makes. He's really conscientious of stuff he struggles with. Anything he struggles with, he gets it fixed for the next game.”

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Redskins vs Lions Preview: 5 things to know as Washington goes to the Motor City

Redskins vs Lions Preview: 5 things to know as Washington goes to the Motor City

Five wins in a row – it’s almost hard to fathom considering how dire the Redskins season looked after losing to the Dallas Cowboys in September dropped Washington to an 0-2 record. Now, after winning four straight, the ‘Skins are firmly back in the NFC playoff picture and have the chance to tack on another win Sunday in Detroit. The game is indoors at Ford Field so weather won’t be an issue, kickoff is set for 1 p.m., but all the coverage starts on Redskins Kickoff at noon on CSN. These are the storylines we will be watching most:

  1. Hit the gas – In wins over the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins got out to early 14-0 leads. Only the team then coughed up those leads, allowing both squads back into games that instead should have been blowouts. If Washington can build an early lead on the road will be a big advantage, but they need to continue to pile up points and not let the Lions hang around.
  2. Cage the Lions – Detroit’s offense is quite effective, in fact the Lions rank No. 12 in the NFL in points-per-game, three spots ahead of the Redskins. QB Matt Stafford is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and has thrown 14 TDs through six games. The Redskins defense, however, has been nearly dominant in their last two games and hasn’t given up an offensive touchdown in the last seven quarters.
  3. No Reed option – Diagnosed with a concussion after the win in Baltimore, Redskins tight end Jordan Reed will miss the Lions game. He also missed the Eagles game, which saw the ‘Skins roll up nearly 500 yards of offense. Reed is a dynamic threat at tight end, but without him, veteran Vernon Davis stepped in against Philly and had two catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Losing Reed is a blow for the ‘Skins, but they should be able to continue to pile up yards and points without him.
  4. Statistically speaking – There is an interesting disparity looking at the Lions and Redskins offensive stats. Detroit is scoring more points than Washington, yet the Lions are gaining significantly less yards per game and yards per play. Jay Gruden’s squad ranks No. 2 in the NFL in yards per play, Detroit ranks 14th. Washington is tied for 5th in yards per game, the Lions are 18th. Obviously, Sean McVay’s offense is moving the ball better than Detroit, but red zone issues have been consistent for the Redskins. The numbers point to an explosion of touchdowns, could this be the week?
  5. No (big) mistakes – Last week against the Eagles, the Redskins defense stifled Carson Wentz and held Philly’s offense mostly in check. The sole reason that game was close were big plays – a pick-six touchdown by Malcolm Jenkins after intercepting a Cousins pass and a kick return touchdown. Defensively, the Redskins have significantly improved at eliminating big plays. Against Detroit, special teams and the offense must focus on not giving up big plays or turning the ball over.

Numbers & Notes:

  • Opposing offenses have been able to run on the Redskins, but Detroit comes into the game with just the 26th best running attack in the NFL.
  • Ryan Kerrigan will make his 87th consecutive start on Sunday – tied for third most among active NFL linebackers. Kerrigan has never missed a start in his career.
  • Against Philadelphia, Matt Jones ran for 135 yards, a career high, and the most Redskins rush yards since Alfred Morris went for 139 against the Vikings in November 2013.
  • Dustin Hopkins has made 15 field goals this season – 1st in the NFC and tied for first in the NFL.
  • On punt returns, Jamison Crowder and the Redskins are averaging 18.8 yards-per-return, which ranks 1st in the NFL.
  • The Redskins offense ranks 1st in the NFL with the fewest amount of 3 & Out drives.
  • If Kirk Cousins passes for 300 yards on Sunday, that will mark his 15th game with 300 passing yards, and he will take second place in Redskins history for most 300-yard games, moving past Joe Theismann.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below.

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NFL reportedly fines Redskins tight end Vernon Davis for jump shot celebration

NFL reportedly fines Redskins tight end Vernon Davis for jump shot celebration

The NFL has fined Redskins tight end Vernon Davis $12,154 for his jump shot touchdown celebration against the Eagles. 

The league had previously fined cornerback Josh Norman $9,115 for pantomiming shooting a bow and arrow after an interception. He said he'd try a beer drinking celebration this week. 

On the day Davis was flagged excessive celebration, Jay Gruden told the media that he'd just gone over sample film of illegal celebrations with his players and didn't see anything resembling Davis' jump shot. 

The Redskins have ruled Jordan Reed out again for Sunday's matchup with the Lions. Davis is expected to start in his place. 

MORE REDSKINS: Doctson could return from IR in Week 15