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Need to Know: What is Alfred Morris' future with the Redskins?

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Need to Know: What is Alfred Morris' future with the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 20, 41 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

We don’t know what Scot McCloughan thinks of Alfred Morris, who has played in the last two Pro Bowls. The GM has had very little media availability since coming to the Redskins in early January and Morris is not a topic that has come up.

But even if he had said anything, what someone like McCloughan does is much more instructive than what he says. It has been pretty well established that they were in touch with free agent running back Justin Forsett, who was popped into the Ravens’ lineup last year after Ray Rice was suspended and ultimately released, in the lead to free agency. All he did was rush for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns.

Sure, the Redskins thought they might be in need of a back to replace Roy Helu, who signed a free agent contract with the Raiders soon after the start of free agency. But you don’t show interest in Forsett if you want someone to play around 350 snaps, which is what Helu played last year. After his 2014 season he is either your full-time back or at least in an equal job-sharing arrangement with another back.

Job sharing is something that would have to be an adjustment for Morris. He has been The Man toting the rock for the Redskins since the first game of his rookie season. Since then, two Redskins running backs have more than 35 total carries. Helu has 104 and Morris has 876. The addition of a back like Forsett would certainly lead to a smaller share of the action for Morris.

Let’s look at something else. Morris is heading into the last year of his rookie contract. There has been talk of contract extensions for Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams, both of whom also have deals that expire after the 2015 season. But nothing has been said about an extension for Morris.

It is possible that there really isn’t much here. The interest in Forsett may have been mild and simple due diligence. It is perhaps hard to blame them for not getting into serious contract negotiations with Morris, given the high injury rate at the running back position.

We’ll have to see how it plays out. Obviously if McCloughan drafts a running back in the first few rounds, the picture changes drastically. But if the status quo remains in place I’d look for Morris to continue in the same role he has had for the past three years and a new contract would be dealt with next spring. We can renew speculation and reading tea leaves at that time.

Timeline

—It’s been 82 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 177 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 31; 2015 NFL Draft 41; Redskins training camp starts 132

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.