Morris’ all-business approach paying off for ‘Skins

The Sports Xchange

October 04, 2012 at 1:48 pm.

Alfred Morris has been a pleasant surprise for the Redskins this year. (Matt Stamey-US PRESSWIRE)

With every performance, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is proving worth the mega-hype he has been receiving. However, even though he’s on pace to become the first NFL quarterback to run for 1,000 yards, Griffin isn’t Washington’s top rusher or even its No. 1 rookie on the ground.

Those distinctions belong to running back Alfred Morris, the 173rd overall selection in April’s draft, who ranks behind only NFL veterans Marshawn Lynch, Jammal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster with 376 rushing yards. And only Foster has more touchdowns than Morris’ four.

Morris is on pace for 1,504 yards, which would leave him just four shy of Clinton Portis’ rookie record total for a back coached by Mike Shanahan.

“(Alfred) can make the first person miss, which a lot of people can’t do in the National Football League,” Shanahan said. “He’s extremely tough. He’s very smart. (He has a) no-nonsense type mindset that he’s going to go out there and try to prove himself every week. He’s just a pleasure to be around. He’s one of those type of guys that you love to cheer for because he’s all business. You can see the players have a lot of respect for him.”

Indeed, 12th-year receiver Santana Moss, who played with the shifty Portis at the University of Miami and with the Redskins, loves the powerful 5-foot-10, 218-pound rookie from Florida Atlantic who wears jersey No. 46.

“He’s got that old school running (style like) back in the day when those guys wore the 40s numbers, the 44, 42, 43,” Moss said of Morris. “He’s downhill. He’s getting yards even when he’s hit.”

If Morris, who had his first 100-yard game in last week’s 24-22 victory at Tampa Bay, and Griffin lead the Redskins to at least 150 yards Sunday against Atlanta, Washington will have reached that level for a fifth straight game for the first time since Weeks 6-10 of 1983.

“I just run,” Morris said. “I refuse to let one person tackle me. It’s all about mindset, that willingness, my desire. You can’t measure a man’s heart.”

— SS Brandon Meriweather will miss his fifth straight game (seventh in a row, counting preseason) after suffering a third injury to his left knee in 44 days during pregame warmups last Sunday at Tampa Bay. Reed Doughty will make his second straight start in Meriweather’s place against visiting Atlanta.

— WR Aldrick Robinson returned to full practice on Thursday and was cleared to play Sunday as part of the NFL’s concussion protocol after getting knocked out in a collision with Meriweather’s knee before the game at Tampa Bay.

— CB Cedric Griffin, who missed the Tampa Bay game with the hamstring that forced him from the action the previous week against Cincinnati, didn’t practice again on Thursday. Rookie Richard Crawford is in line to take his place as the nickel back for the second straight week

— WR Brandon Banks, who was limited last week with a hip injury but played at Tampa Bay, was limited again on Thursday.

— RB Evan Royster, who was limited last week with a knee injury but played at Tampa Bay, was limited again on Thursday.