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Morris bursts through 'rookie wall'

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Morris bursts through 'rookie wall'

The fact that Alfred Morris stands only 18 yards from reaching the milestone mark of 1,000 is a testament to his physical build, durability and work ethic, his coaches said this week. 

“He has that type of body,” Coach Mike Shanahan said. “He’s 220 pounds. He’s strong. He’s very physical and he’s in excellent shape. They don’t make all bodies like that, with that type of power.” 

The 23-year-old rookie ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing yards (982), sixth in attempts (208) and 14th in yards per carry (4.7) for the Redskins, who lead the league in yards on the ground with 1,799. He’s also been handed the ball at least 13 carries in each game.

Morris’ number of attempts is 195 more than the next running back on the Redskins’ roster, Evan Royster, who has 13. Quarterback Robert Griffin III, meantime, has 100 carries for 642 yards.

“That’s been the most impressive thing about him; he’s never hit a rookie wall,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “He runs so hard and I’ve never seen him wear down at all. He’s been strong all year.”

The numbers also show a correlation between the Redskins' record and Morris' workload. They’re 4-1 when he's handed the ball 20 times or more, and 1-5 when he's not. 

Thirteen weeks into his first pro season, there have been no signs of Morris hitting the "rookie wall," the point at which rookie's body wears down from the increased strain and intensity of the longer NFL season. In fact, the sixth round draft pick is coming off one of his busiest weeks of the season. Morris carried the ball 24 times for 113 yards against the Cowboys – only four days after logging 20 attempts against the Eagles.

"You don't know for sure if a guy can carry the load," Mike Shanahan said. "It's hard. You take a lot of punishment as a running back. When you're carrying that ball anywhere from 15 to 30 times a game, it's pretty tough on the body. But you could see it from the first preseason game and through the preseason, he's a special back and he keeps getting better." 

Morris’ career-high of 120 yards came Oct. 21 against the Giants – the Redskins’ opponent Monday night.

“I don’t know if he reminds me of anybody, but ‘The Bus’ comes to mind,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said Wednesday, referring to former Steelers’ running back Jerome Bettis. “He falls forward and gets three yards just from his head of steam.”

Physical gifts and experience aside, there are a couple more reasons Morris' trajectory has continued to rise: He’s learned to take better care of his body and has become a student of the craft.

“If you don’t care of your body in the NFL, especially as a running back, you have no chance,” Kyle Shanahan said. And “he keeps grinding on everything. He’s really quick to correct any mistakes he makes. He's really conscientious of stuff he struggles with. Anything he struggles with, he gets it fixed for the next game.”

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Where's Galette, Cousins' future

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Where's Galette, Cousins' future

NEW ORLEANS—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 18, one day before the Washington Redskins play the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: AM walkthrough and then travel to New Orleans. No media availability.

Days until:

—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 6
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 13
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/19) 23

Quick Redskins news hits

C Spencer Long tried to play last week and he couldn’t make it more than a dozen snaps before sitting down for the rest of the day. He is out against the Seahawks tomorrow.

With Brian Quick and Ryan Grant questionable with concussions and Terrelle Pryor out with an ankle injury, the Redskins are down to three healthy wide receivers. While Quick and Grant might play, the depth chart could have Doctson, Crowder, and Harris on it.

The Redskins week that was

2 reasons Redskins didn't trade Terrelle Pryor—If you want to know why the deal with the Browns didn’t happen, follow the money. Between his signing bonus and the half of the year’s salary, the Redskins have already paid $4.5 million. Although he hasn’t been nearly as productive as they hoped he would be, there was no point in letting him go to save $1.5 million unless they got a second-day draft pick, or maybe a fourth, in return. See that Jay Gruden said that he didn’t hear of the proposed trade, talks must not have become too serious.

Remember Junior Galette? The Redskins don't seem to—As with Pryor, everyone is waiting for Galette to break out. But unlike Pryor, he’s not an expensive unproductive player. He’s making the veteran minimum. Against the Vikings, he played just 19 snaps. Perhaps a return to New Orleans for a game against his old team will spark a sack or two.

Recent comments from Cousins may hint at future in D.C.—Cousins has been big on making statements about the long-term future with the Redskins (read the post for specifics). That doesn’t mean that it’s a lock that he stays in town. But it should give some pause to those who believe that it is a lock that he will be in another uniform when 2018 or, at the latest, 2019 rolls around. He has never been inclined to go to the highest bidder and if the Redskins make a competitive offer that delivers what he wants he could well stick around.

How the Vikings scored 21 unanswered points against the Redskins—The 21-0 run in about seven minutes of game time that the Vikings used to make a competitive game at FedEx Field a rout was a combination of good offense by the Vikings and bad defense and offense by the Redskins. They couldn’t cover Adam Thielen on either drive. Cousins threw an interception off of his back foot and that set up the middle of the three touchdowns. If the Redskins end the season a game out of a playoff spot that seven-minute stretch will be one of the big reasons why they failed to make it.

Player one-liners, defense— Usually, the offensive edition of the player one-liners tends to be the most popular but this week it was the defense that drew the most interest. The defensive player I’m going to keep an eye on the most in the last seven games is rookie safety Montae Nicholson. He has the speed and hard hitting ability that the secondary needs. When asked what will happen when Nicholson is healthy, Jay Gruden said without hesitation that he is the starter. Nicholson’s health will be important for the defense down the stretch. DeAngelo Hall is better suited to a part-time role at this stage of his career.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Redskins getting thin at receiver with two more injured wideouts out on Sunday

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Redskins getting thin at receiver with two more injured wideouts out on Sunday

In August, Redskins fans would freak out if they heard Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor would both miss a November game.

In November, that news doesn’t carry much worry.

Washington coach Jay Gruden announced that Reed and Pryor, along with center Spencer Long, won’t play Sunday against the Saints.

RELATED: KEYS TO VICTORY AGAINST THE SAINTS

Reed hasn’t played in a few weeks as he is dealing with a hamstring injury. It seemed he might have returned last week before a setback slowed down his progress.

In his place, Vernon Davis has proved to be a sturdy backup capable of some big games.

Long injured his knee and while he played last week, he did not practice this week.

Not having Pryor is a bit of a surprise. His ankle injury popped up this week and he will see a specialist next week to examine the joint. In the middle of a disappointing season, the Redskins offense won’t lose much with his absence.

Elsewhere on the injury list, a number of players will be questionable for Sunday’s contest against the 7-2 Saints.

Perhaps most important, Trent Williams is questionable but will probably play.

MORE ON THE REDSKINS: FIVE PLAYERS UNDER PRESSURE

Receivers Ryan Grant and Brian Quick are expected to play after undergoing concussion protocol, but that will leave the Redskins with only three fully healthy wideouts: Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Maurice Harris.