Alfred Morris nose for the end zone and uncanny ability to make defenders miss are well documented.Whats less obvious about the Redskins running back is his tireless work ethic. In fact, he occasionally has be told by the coaching staff to conserve energy in practice.Alfred is very conscientious, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Thursday. He never feels like hes arrived. Hes working every day in practice and walkthroughs.Shanahan added: He only goes one speed. We try to slow him down in walkthrough because hes running as hard as he can.Morris pulls up to Redskins Park each day in a 1991 Mazda with crank down windows. On Sunday, he'll arrive in Week 5 of his first NFL season tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (four) and ranked fifth in rushing yards (376).I dont even pay attention to that, Morris said. I heard that stat. But I dont look up that stuff. I dont be on the Internet. I dont be on these news channels or anything. I just run. The only stat I focus on is wins and losses.As impressive as Morris has been, Kyle Shanahan said its the 23-year-olds hunger to improve that sets him apart.Hes always going to get better because he works at it, Shanahan said. Als best thing is running the ball, which everybody sees. But hes got to get better in all those other aspects and he has. Just catching the ball, hes come a long way since OTAs. You feel confident throwing him the ball.Shanahan also said Morris continues to make significant strides in pass protection. Hes come a long way, he said. All guys out of college struggle with protections because its a lot more complex with the looks that you get. Hes more upset with himself when he has a bust in protection than when he has a bad run. When you have a guy like that, you have a chance to learn it quicker than others.
Rookie camps are in the books as teams now move to organized team activities. Does that mean it's too early for fantasy football rankings?
Probably, but seeing as the rookies are new to the scene, we might as well start projecting where and how they fit.
CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS
Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas were among the rookies who produced and then some in 2016.
Based on the early rounds of the 2017 NFL draft, there’s hope for even more first-year standouts.
Starting with the Bears selecting quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall, 19 skill players were drafted in the first and second round.
That includes fellow first-round quarterback selections Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Several sleeper candidates followed.
Here’s my look at the Elite Eight quarterbacks with the 2017 fantasy football season -- and beyond -- in mind.
2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings:
* Running Backs - No. 1, Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
* Wide receivers - No. 1, Corey Davis, Titans
Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin on Tuesday, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.
Up today …
Finlay: There's a lot to do on the Redskins defensive line, and it starts in the middle. Expect free agent addition Stacy McGee to have a big opportunity to take over the nose tackle job. McGee ranked as a +5.5 run defender last season as rated by Pro Football Focus, and at 6-foot-3 and 308 lbs., he has the size to man the middle. McGee has plenty of talent, health has been his hiccup. He has only played all 16 games in one of his four seasons, and in 2016, he played only nine games.
Beyond McGee, the Redskins have some lottery tickets. Practice squad players A.J. Francis and Joey Mbu both have the size to play nose, but neither have the experience. Could Francis or Mbu emerge for significant snaps with the Washington defense? Sure, but it would be unexpected.
A bigger lottery ticket remains. Phil Taylor, a former first-round pick in 2012, has shown serious talent at the nose tackle position. At 6-foot-3 and 337 lbs., Taylor certainly has the size for the spot. At the same time, Taylor hasn't played an NFL game since 2014, losing both 2015 and 2016 to injury. Counting on Taylor would be short-sighted, but if he can remain healthy, there could be big value.
According to Jay Gruden, the most important piece of the nose tackle puzzle will come from new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Gruden said he expects Tomsula to "make" a nose tackle and improve the Redskins D-line. It's a tall order, but Tomsula has an impressive track record working in the trenches.
Tandler: The organization’s refusal to get a legitimate nose tackle either in free agency or in the draft will lead to them again spend the spring and summer trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
That’s what they did last year with Ziggy Hood. He took a lot of snaps at nose tackle and he simply wasn’t a fit for the job. It wasn’t his fault that the Redskins allowed a league-worst 5.0 yards per rushing attempt on first down; he’s an end and he was much more effective there.
Matt Ioannidis, a 2016 fifth-round pick, also took some snaps at nose, with similar results. At 6-3, 308, he just doesn’t have the size to be effective.
The worst part of it here is that they really can’t get too far in identifying the 2017 nose tackle. In the spring with no pads and no contact allowed they really can’t do much besides work on technique and learn assignments. Tomsula’s effort to “make” a nose tackle won’t really get going until they get to Richmond in late August.
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!