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Redskins' Morris showing plenty of drive

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Rookie running back enjoys making contact

ASHBURN -- It wasn't just the fact that he was about to score a touchdown. What Alfred Morris likes as much as anything is contact. So when he saw a linebacker filling the hole, Morris did what he loves doing: He lowered his shoulder and kept driving hard.

And he won, running through Saints linebacker David Hawthorne and into the end zone. It's the sort of run Morris welcomes; it's the sort the Redskins want to see as well.

"I've been doing that forever," Morris said. "It was a good run. It just showed my willingness to get a touchdown, my willingness to not be stopped. It's something special, but it's something I'm used to."

Notes
» Receiver Pierre Garcon was "very limited" in practice, and there's still uncertainty about his status for Sunday's game vs. St. Louis. Garcon suffered a bruised right foot in the season-opening win over New Orleans. Coach Mike Shanahan said he will have a better idea Friday of what Garcon might be able to do Sunday. He said Garcon did take part in drill work and "that was encouraging." Shanahan also said Garcon's potential availability is tied more to pain tolerance than the fear of hurting his foot worse. Shanahan did not say who would replace Garcon, but Aldrick Robinson went in for him Sunday. However, the Redskins want their wideouts to know both the X position, where Garcon plays, and the Z position, where Josh Morgan plays.
» Linebacker London Fletcher on Rams running back Steven Jackson: "He does have speed and power and some shiftiness to them, so he presents a different challenge. You have to get as many guys around him as much as possible to try and corral him."
» Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said it's tough to underestimate how big Garcon's 88-yard touchdown catch was vs. the Saints. "It changes the whole aspect of the game," he said. "Coverages get softer. People get more scared. People get confident. It makes it a lot easier on everybody."

It's something the Redskins are getting used to; Morris also did this in the preseason against Chicago's Lance Briggs. But Morris welcomes contact. When asked about carrying 28 times in the opener, Morris said he could have carried 30 more. When asked about pass protection, he said he wanted New Orleans to blitz more when he was in the game.

"That was unfortunate because I was looking forward to contact," Morris said.

"He's physical, man," Redskins fullback Darrel Young said of Morris.

That was evident in New Orleans, where he managed 3.4 yards a carry for 96 yards total. Morris only had two carries for negative yards in part because of his ability to fall forward for extra yards, a byproduct of his style.

"He has a lot of ability," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's a guy that can hit the hole extremely hard, but has the lateral quickness to make people miss. That's a good combination."

But Morris is far from a finished product. He was a sixth-round pick in part because he's not fast (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds at the scouting combine). He also came from a smaller school (Florida Atlantic). However, Morris impressed the coaches because he acted as if he belonged in the NFL.

"The game's not too big for him," Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "You don't know how a guy's going to act when he gets in that situation and he acts the same way he does in practice, the same way he did in the preseason. He was the same out there on Sunday."

But Morris also knows it could have been better -- and needs to be better. There were issues with his angles on some runs, mostly from staying too tight to the line.

"It wasn't as wide as it should have been, and it didn't allow me to see certain holes that were there," he said. "We left yards on the field."

Part of the problem was his newness to the zone read look. Also, in college Morris said he had a bad habit of looking at the ball when he got the handoff because there had been exchange issues. That habit returned Sunday.

"I'll kill that habit this week," Morris said. "Old habits die hard."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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