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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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The case for - and against - the Redskins signing Colin Kaepernick

The case for - and against - the Redskins signing Colin Kaepernick

Don't look in this space for an argument that the Redskins - who are reportedly signing Mark Sanchez as Colt McCoy's backup - should, or should not, sign Colin Kaepernick.

This space will lay out reasons why the Redskins should, and should not, consider signing Colin Kaepernick. 

It's not a binary decision. In fact, it's just about the opposite. 

Any debate about Kaepernick often gets bogged down in differing political view points. This is not the place for that. Rather, here is an attempt to make the case for or against Kaepernick from a football perspective. 

The case to sign Colin Kaepernick

  • The Redskins need a quarterback. Alex Smith broke his leg and Colt McCoy needs a backup. Of the available free agents out there, Kaepernick has by far the best stats and resume. As Chris Thompson explained of Kaepernick, "He made it to a Super Bowl." When he last played in 2016, Kaepernick had 16 TDs against just four INTs in 12 starts. 
  • Kaepernick has familiarity in the West Coast offense, and once backed up Alex Smith and played with Vernon Davis. 
  • Redskins QB coach and passing game coordinator Kevin O'Connell worked on the 49ers staff with Kaepernick.
  • Multiple Redskins players, including Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, said that the Nike pitchman deserves another chance in the NFL. 

The case not to sign Colin Kaepernick

  • Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL for nearly two full seasons. He hasn't practiced in a professional setting for more than a year. The Redskins are competing for the NFC East title. If they have to go to a backup QB, they want somebody that is game ready. It's hard to think Kaepernick fits that bill today. 
  • Earlier this season, Redskins CB Josh Norman had some choice words for Kaepernick after Panthers safety Eric Reid spoke out against the NFL Player's Coalition. Norman is an active particpant and leader on the Player's Coalition, a social rights group that Kaepernick distanced himself from. Putting Norman and Kaepernick in the same locker room might create some friction for a first-place team. 
  • At 6-4, the Redskins are in first place in the NFC East and should still be able to win games with McCoy at quarterback. Regardless how one feels about Kaepernick's activism, it will create a side show for any organization that brings him in. Cable news outlets like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC will descend on the Washington locker room should Kaepernick get signed. 

 

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    Redskins will reportedly sign Mark Sanchez as backup QB

    Redskins will reportedly sign Mark Sanchez as backup QB

    Mark Sanchez is reportedly set to join the Washington Redskins in advance of the Week 12 Thanksgiving day game against the Cowboys, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

    A devastating, season-ending injury to Alex Smith in Week 11 pushed Colt McCoy into the starting quarterback position, and without a third quarterback in-house, the Redskins had to sign a late replacement.

    Sanchez, who last played for the Bears during the 2017 season,  spent four seasons with the Jets after the team selected him out of Southern Cal with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

    Sanchez led the Jets to two AFC Championship games, but will ultimately be remembered for the "butt fumble" in a 2012 Thanksgiving day blowout loss to the New England Patriots. Sanchez's first game with the Redskins will take place exactly six years after the infamous moment.

    Sanchez has appeared in 77 games in seven seasons, starting 72. He's thrown for over 15,000 yards and has tossed 86 touchdown passes, while also throwing 86 interceptions.

    McCoy will start for the Redskins on Thursday in Dallas and is expected to be the starting quarterback for the rest of the season, with Sanchez serving as his backup and safety net.

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