Morris closing in on Portis' record

Morris closing in on Portis' record
December 29, 2012, 9:45 am
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SportsTalk Live: New Redskins cast can make their own history this Sunday

Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris (46) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half at FedEx Field.

(Paul Frederiksen-US PRESSWIRE)

One by one, Alfred Morris has taken possession of Washington’s rookie records for rushing. Carries? Check. Yards? Check. Touchdowns? Check, again. 

But on Sunday night, there will be a more significant milestone within Morris’ reach, one that won't have a ‘rookie’ asterisk attached to it. With 104 yards against the Cowboys in a winner-takes-all matchup between bitter rivals, Morris will have gained more yards than any Redskins running back in a single season.

The record currently belongs to Clinton Portis, who rushed for 1,516 yards in 2005. Through 15 games this season, Morris has gained 1,413 yards, which is good for fourth in the NFL and fourth all-time in franchise history, putting him ahead of names such as John Riggins, Earnest Byner and Terry Allen. (Portis also ranks second with 1,487 in 2008, while Stephen Davis is third with 1,432 in 2001).

All season, Morris has maintained that breaking records isn’t his goal. And the quiet and assuming 24-year-old didn’t waver when asked about possibly surpassing Portis.

“I didn’t even know how many more yards I needed until you just told me,” said Morris, who was tapped this week as an alternate for the Pro Bowl. “That’s how I get my information—you guys.”

Based on Morris’ recent performances, it appears the sixth round pick out of Florida Atlantic stands a decent chance of ascending to the top spot. He gained 113 yards against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and has averaged 103.3 yards per game during the Redskins’ six-game winning streak. For the season, Morris is averaging is 94.2 yards per contest.

The Cowboys’ injury depleted defense, meantime, has yielded an average of 121.1 rushing yards the past 10 games. And with quarterback Robert Griffin III still receiving treatment for a knee injury and temperatures expected to be in the low 30s, it’s possible Morris will be handed the ball – a lot.

Asked what the Redskins saw in Morris that 31 other teams did not, Coach Mike Shanahan cracked: “Well, to be honest with you, we took him in the sixth round. So we’re not that smart, either.”

Griffin added: “From the first day we saw him until now, he’s not a completely different person, but he’s a completely different back. We’ve always said it looks like he’s playing pee wee football out there. He never goes down and that’s just the way he runs.”

In the latter stages of Sunday’s game, a lot of people will be checking the stats, looking to see where Morris stands in relation to a distinguished place in the Redskins' record book. Morris, though, insists the only place he’ll be watching is the scoreboard.

“I don’t think about it,” he said. “My only focus is winning. I want to win, I want to go to the postseason, you know? I want the Redskins to return to glory. And it takes all of us to get that done.”