The 107 yards on 14 carries pleased him. The blocks he made left him ecstatic. When it comes to evaluating Alfred Morris’ nights, those blocks might matter more. It represents progress –and something he must do more of if he wants to start under Mike Shanahan.
Morris, a good pass protector in college, had been inconsistent in this area since camp opened. In the second preseason game Morris missed a blitz pickup that led to Robert Griffin III’s sack/fumble.
Against the Colts, Morris was better.
“No mental errors, I picked up all my blitzes,” he said.
Two blocks stood out, one on a defensive linemen and another on a blitz. First, the blitz. Morris said the Colts sent two linebackers, who crossed and went through the respective gaps between the center and guards.
“I was able to recognize it and stone the backer in the hole and Robert was able to make a good throw,” he said.
The other time led to a witty exchange with Colts’ defensive tackle Fili Moala.
“I was on a play fake and [Moala] came off the O-lineman and he was free and I hit him right in the mouth,” Morris said. “I bent him back and he was like, ‘Yeah, you better help your O-linemen out.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, you’d better get your back checked.’
“I got tackled a couple times on my fakes because I was running so hard they thought I had the ball. I was carrying out my fake and my coach says never pass color and I saw color flash and I hit it. It happened to be a D-lineman.”
As for his running, Morris showed the same attributes that were evident from early in camp: balance, vision, sharp cuts.
“He runs hard, no extra juking or jiving,” said left tackle Trent Williams. “One step and downhill. That’s what you need out of a running back, especially in this offense.”
Now Morris’ name is being mentioned among those who might start the opener at New Orleans. Roy Helu hasn’t played the past two games because of sore Achilles; Tim Hightower didn’t play until Saturday and there could be reluctance to put him in anything other than a supportive role at first because of his knee; and Evan Royster missed Saturday with a sore knee (though he should be fine).
Enter Morris, a sixth-round pick from Florida Atlantic. Picking up blitzes, which he’ll see a greater variety of once the season starts, certainly helps.
“I know I’m able to be a starter,” he said. “I came from a small school, but I know my willingness to be great. I knew I could be a starter one day. I know it’s a process.”