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In RG3's shadow is Morris, Redskins' other rookie

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In RG3's shadow is Morris, Redskins' other rookie

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) On third-and-one, Robert Griffin III faked an up-the-middle handoff to Alfred Morris - and the New York Giants fell for it big-time.

``They all just crashed down on me,'' Morris said. ``When that happens, I really just laugh in the pile. `Ha, ha.' I was thinking, like, `Y'all dumb, y'all tackled me, but the quarterback is running down the field.'''

Morris' acting job on Griffin's 46-yard scamper might have been the best example of how the Washington Redskins rookie backfield tandem is driving defenses crazy. It's hard enough to account for a dual-threat quarterback with world-class speed, but there's also the sixth-round draft pick from Florida Atlantic who is tied for third in the NFL with 1,106 yards rushing.

In another time or place, Morris would be the newest sensation - the kid who emerges from an 1-11 college team and instantly becomes a cog in the No. 1 rushing offense in the pros.

Instead, he's been eclipsed by the supernova known as RG3.

``It's a good thing for me, because I really don't like the limelight,'' Morris said. ``I just love playing the game. I don't really need any outside attention. Not to say dump it on him, but he can have it all.

``People feel like I'm in the shadow - I don't feel like I'm in the shadow. I'm thankful that he's my quarterback. And I'm glad that we get an opportunity to be rookies together, to grow together. I hope it's the beginning of a beautiful relationship, and that it goes on for quite some time.''

That's not to say Morris is shy or withdrawn. He talks a mile-a-minute, especially when the topic turns to old cars or movies, but he'll happily settle for the occasional ``You da man!'' shout-out when he's out in the community when compared to the nonstop adulation heaped on Griffin.

``Robert, he can't go anywhere,'' Morris said. ``I'm surprised he even makes it to the movies.''

Morris also knows his road to NFL success was hardly guaranteed. He was far from a sure bet to make the roster when he arrived at training camp to compete with Tim Hightower, Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster. A 107-yard preseason effort against the Indianapolis Colts, who were playing their starters for much of the game, put Morris in the running for the starting job and confirmed to him that: ``I know for a fact I can do this.''

Now he has five 100-yard rushing games, including a season-best 124 in Monday night's 17-16 win over the Giants that raised Washington's record to 6-6 ahead of Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.

``I didn't think I'd touch the field until around the fifth or sixth game,'' Morris said. ``Maybe I'd get in there and get a couple of snaps. If I told you I'd known it was going to happen this fast, it would have been a lie. But I'm just thankful that it did.''

Morris has also become known for his 1991 Mazda, affectionately known as ``Bentley.'' He thought he was going to have to park it for the winter when the battery died while he away for a few days after Thanksgiving, but a warm spell has persuaded him to keep driving it to Redskins Park every day.

If ``Bentley'' does give him more trouble, Morris said he'll probably lease a car or get a ride from his roommate, a friend from middle school who happens to work at a pharmacy in the area.

Morris' dream car, however, is a 1964 Impala.

``I'm going to get one, one of these days,'' Morris said. ``I want to build my '64 Impala from the ground up.''

If the Impala runs as well as its owner, it'll be in good shape. Morris averages 4.8 yards per carry with a long of 39. The book on him is that he'll take a play that's blocked for three yards and get six, but that he's not someone who will break one for 60.

``They keep saying that,'' Morris said. ``But don't be surprised if it happens.''

Morris is also emphatic that he's not going to hit the so-called rookie wall, having learned the rigors of life in the pros in a hurry.

``All the stuff I didn't do in college, I do now,'' Morris said. ``I never stretched in college. I was stiff as a board. ... I'm not going to hit a rookie wall. I don't mean that to be, like, arrogant or anything. It's the truth. I've been taking care of my body, and mentally I'm prepared for anything.''

And, while Griffin continues to get most of the publicity, Morris is also learning more about the role model responsibility that comes with being a productive NFL player. He shared a letter he received this week from the family of Michael Denis Morlino, a Redskins fan from Virginia who died in October at the age of 11.

``He just took a liking to me,'' Morris said. ``I don't know why.''

Morris said he plans to frame the letter. He said he was particularly touched by a quote Michael's family found written in pencil on a piece of paper in the boy's room: ``Arrogance leads to failure. Success is derived from patience and humility.''

``So much negative stuff going around,'' Morris said. ``Kids need someone positive to look up to.''

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NBA Draft prospect De'Andre Hunter is ready to make his family proud at the next level

NBA Draft prospect De'Andre Hunter is ready to make his family proud at the next level

When asked if his family had a motto, De'Andre Hunter summed it up in two words: "Family first."

"We have a great bond, we're really close and we all get along. I feel like that really helped me in the long run," the 2019 NBA Draft prospect told NBC Sports Washington for its miniseries I Am The Prospect. "We know we have each other's back, we always put each other before anyone else."

The Hunter family has always had De'Andre's back, supporting him from the days during his childhood when he'd wake them up early in the morning to play basketball, to the night he helped Virginia win its first NCAA title.

Things weren't always easy in the Hunter household. De'Andre's father, Aaron Hunter Sr., died when De'Andre was 7, forcing the entire family, especially his mother Priscilla, to take on more responsibility and bond together. 

"My mom is the rock of the family. She does anything for every single one of us. No matter where she is or what she's doing, she's willing to help us in any kind of way," Hunter said. "And as far as my brother and sisters, they're the same way. They're really caring, and we ... really look after each other. 

"In a family that's what you need, and we just always support each other, no matter what the circumstance is."

And as he grew up, De'Andre's older brother Aaron Jr. took on a more paternal role. 

"Once my father passed away, he really stepped up," De'Andre said of Aaron. "He really taught me a lot of things that he went through. I didn't see him grow up, but I saw him become, I feel like, a man in some sense. Because he had to take care of our family in a certain way.

"He cares for me a lot, so I thank him a lot for everything he's taught me."

In fact, it was Aaron who De'Andre called upon when he got the disappointing news he would be redshirted his first year at UVA and thus ineligible to play that season.  

"The decision to redshirt really hurt," Hunter said. "I didn't see it coming, but when coach (Tony Bennett) told me, I just took it."

"I told my brother, I probably complained to him a little bit but he just told me to use it in a beneficial way and don’t look at it in a negative way. I tried to do that, and I feel like in the long run it definitely helped me.

Over those next two seasons in Charlottesville, Hunter became a bonafide college star. He won the ACC's Sixth Man of the Year award during the 2017-18 season then earned the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2018-19, not to mention leading the Cavaliers to a national championship, scoring a team-high 27 points in the title game against Texas Tech.

Hunter recalled how special it was having his family in the arena that night to celebrate with him. 

"It meant a lot for them to come all the way out to Minnesota to watch me play," he said. "They took off from work, took off from things they probably had to do, just to come see me play. That means a lot to me because they really don't have to do that. But they were there for me." 

Now, Hunter is preparing to take the next step into the NBA ranks. And when his name's called Thursday night at the draft, his family will be there cheering -- and probably crying -- for him. 

"Draft night's gonna be really emotional. I don't know if I'm gonna cry or not, but I know a few members of my family will be crying, so that'll probably get to me a little bit," Hunter said with a smile. "It's gonna be a great moment for not only me but for my family as well."

"My mom's for sure gonna cry. My sisters might even cry, but I feel like Aaron might let a few tears out."

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram ranked No. 2 in NFL for 'best rushing tandems'

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram ranked No. 2 in NFL for 'best rushing tandems'

Kick off your Thursday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram were ranked No. 2 in Pro Football Focus' 'best rushing tandems ahead of the 2019 NFL season.' Ravens fans are excited to see Jackson and Ingram work together on the field this season.

2. The Ravens are looking for help at left guard and with 2017 fifth-round pick Jermaine Eluemunor not getting many reps in, Coach Harbaugh put Eluemunor in the left guard spot. Although Harbaugh said Eluemunor will need to get in better shape, he acknowledged Eluemunor's work at left guard.


Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens and Rotoworld for news points.

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