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Are the Redskins phasing out Alfred Morris?

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Are the Redskins phasing out Alfred Morris?

Are the Redskins phasing out Alfred Morris?

One of the team’s best, most consistent players over the past few seasons has seen his carries go down from game to game this year. He had 25 rushing attempts in Week 1 against the Dolphins, 18 against the Rams the next week and just six on Thursday against the Giants.

Meanwhile, after getting just six carries in his Week 1 NFL debut, rookie Matt Jones has had more carries that Morris in each of the last two games. He had 19 against the Rams and 11 in New Jersey on Thursday.

So what about Morris’ workload, especially against New York?

“Well, the fourth quarter was the fourth quarter,” said Jay Gruden when asked about Morris. “Third quarter, we only had one drive in the third quarter. They held the ball for I think like eight minutes on their opening drive. So, he didn’t get many opportunities in the second half obviously because of the score. We didn’t have many offensive snaps there, and when we did, there was passing pretty much and that’s Chris Thompson’s role. First half, kind of the substitution pattern fell the way it did. You know, it was nothing against Alfred, it was just it was Matt Jones’ turn on a couple of those reps and we gave him some carries.  We intend on splitting the reps up pretty good. Alfred should be the lead dog though. It just didn’t work out that way.”

RELATED: Andre Roberts' drops are becoming a concern for Redskins

By the time the Redskins got the ball in the fourth quarter they were trailing 25-6. Third-down back Chris Thompson played most of the snaps. They ran just twice in the period so there was no opportunity to give the ball to Morris.

In that lone third quarter possession, Morris carried on the first two plays, gaining eight yards. Jones carried once for no gain later. The drive was moving along nicely into Giants territory but Kirk Cousins threw an interception to end it.

In the first half, though, when the game was relatively more competitive, the carries favored Jones. The Redskins’ first offensive snap came with an empty backfield but Jones was the first running back to take the field so you could say he started the game. The rookie had nine carries compared to four for Morris.

I think that this game could end up being an anomaly. Gruden used that “lead dog” phrase all offseason to talk about Morris’ role. But it also is easy to look at Jones’ talent, his rare combination of size, power, and speed, and think that Gruden has to find ways to get him on the field.

It’s also impossible to ignore the contract situations of each player. Morris is in the last year of his rookie contract and he will be looking for a healthy free agent deal in the spring of 2016. Jones is locked up at very low annual salaries through the 2018 season. Some conspiracy theorists out there think that the coaching staff will underutilize Morris this season so that the team can justify a lowball offer to him next spring.

But I don’t think the coaching staff is all that worried about the 2016 salary cap right now. If they don’t win at least half a dozen or more games this year, Gruden and company may not be around in 2016. During the course of the season they will deploy their assets at running back in the way that will they believe will win them games in 2015. That may end up being more snaps for Morris than for Jones or vice versa. The chips will fall wherever they fall.

MORE REDSKINS: 'This is who Cousins is'

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Trent Williams was definitely not playing Sunday against Houston, but now he might

Trent Williams was definitely not playing Sunday against Houston, but now he might

On Wednesday, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said that six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams would not play on Sunday against the Texans. 

"That's for sure," the coach said. 

By Friday, the tune had changed. Drastically. 

Gruden said that Williams' status on Sunday will come down to the medical staff. The coach added that Williams has to be comfortable in whatever cast will support his dislocated thumb.

As for Williams, he would not say for sure that he's going to play. But after talking with him for a few minutes in the Redskins locker room, it seems like the medical staff will be hard pressed to keep him off the field. 

Williams missed the Redskins last two games after injuring his thumb in a victory over the Giants. Without him, the Redskins offensive line performed admirably, but both tackles Morgan Moses and Ty Nsekhe are fighting through a number of injuries. 

The thumb injury required surgery, which happened about two weeks ago and came with a rough four-week timetable for recovery. Williams is attempting to cut that in half. 

Asked about Williams possibly playing Sunday, Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said he wants his friend and teammate to be smart about his future. Peterson said "there's a lot of football left" but the running back also added that there were situations watching Texans film this week where "it'd be real nice to have Trent out there."

Williams himself said that it must be tough for Peterson, as the two are close friends. Obviously, the running back wants the star tackle out on the field, but he also cares about his long-term future. 

Notes: Redskins K Dustin Hopkins landed on the injury report earlier with a groin injury in the week and the team brought in other kickers for tryouts on Tuesday. On Friday, Hopkins said he was pain-free and planned to "give it a go" Sunday against Houston. 

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With Samaje Perine ruled out for Week 11, expect Byron Marshall to be activated off IR

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With Samaje Perine ruled out for Week 11, expect Byron Marshall to be activated off IR

The main news on Friday at Redskins Park was the surprising return to the practice field by Trent Williams. 

That wasn't the only notable development when it comes to injuries, though. 

During his end-of-the-week podium session, Jay Gruden ruled Samaje Perine out for Sunday's game against the Texans. The second-year back has a calf injury and won't be able to go in Week 11.

As of Friday afternoon, that leaves the 'Skins with just two healthy running backs in Adrian Peterson and Kapri Bibbs. Chris Thompson is on the active roster as well, but he's dealing with rib issues and he's going to be absent when Houston visits.

This means you should expect to see Byron Marshall in Burgundy and Gold come kickoff. Marshall has been on IR with an ankle injury since the start of the year but said he's been healthy for a while now and would be ready to step in as the third back.

The majority of offensive snaps the past few weeks have gone to Peterson and Bibbs, so Marshall shouldn't figure into things too much when the Redskins have the ball. He showed flashes in some spot duty in 2017, though, so if need be, he could be productive for Gruden.

With Trey Quinn already back on the 53, if/when the team elects to bring back Marshall, the Redskins will be out of IR activations. NFL rules stipulate each club only gets two per season.

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