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Morris determined not to let his contract status distract him

alfred-morris-vs-49ers.png

Morris determined not to let his contract status distract him

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins organization will have a number of important free agent decisions to make in 2016. They will have 15 unrestricted free agents to deal with including seven players who are projected to be starters this season.

The organization has placed a priority on locking up left tackle Trent Williams and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan before they hit free agency. However, one key performer whose contract is set to expire after this year likely will have to wait until next spring to see what the team will offer him. And Alfred Morris insists that it doesn’t bother him one bit.

“I could care less, honestly,” the fourth-year running back said during minicamp. “I approach every year the same. I’m a running back so I’ll be running the ball, blocking, catching it. I don’t even think about next year.”

He’s well aware that his contract status will be a topic of discussion.

“I know I’ll get that question a lot and I kind of dread it this year but it is what it is,” he said. I’m keeping things like I did them my first, second, third years. That’s the same way I approach this fourth year.”

Only Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks has gained more yards since Morris came into the league than the 3,962 that the sixth-round pick has posted. In fact, only 12 other backs in league history have gained more in their first three years in the league than Morris has.

But the Redskins appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach. That is the prudent course, considering that both Morris’ total rushing yards and his average per carry have dropped each year since his sensational 1,613-yard performance as a rookie.

The value the organization places on Morris is likely to be determined by the direction his numbers take this season. If he gets his rushing total back up into the 1,300-yard range or better he could draw a solid offer. If his output slips below 1,000 yards they could decide to move on. Perhaps if his production shows a modest improvement they could decide to let Morris walk and go with Matt Jones, this year’s third-down pick.

Either way, it’s smart of Morris to let things play out and not worry about it. Not that other sports are necessarily comparable but Nationals fans have seen the play of shortstop Ian Desmond decline in his contract year, perhaps because he’s pressing. Morris just needs to do what he does and let business end take care of itself. 

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

Even on a field filled with NFL players, experienced coaches and a few celebrities, Clint Oldenburg stood out. 

It wasn’t because of his stature or that he used to play pro football, either.

It was due to his jacket.

A jacket, which led to a photo, which led to a tweet, which led to unexpected Internet fame, all thanks to the four words written on Oldenburg’s back: “Madden Ratings Performance Adjustor.”

Oldenburg was spending Week 9 at FedEx Field, sent by EA Sports to get more information on Adrian Peterson at that afternoon’s Redskins-Falcons game. The future Hall of Famer is in the middle of a comeback season, so Oldenburg was charged with checking in on him.

4.5 million Twitter impressions later, Oldenburg now knows that countless people are supremely jealous of his weekend vocation.

"I wasn’t really engaging on my cell phone during the game, and then when I was catching my cab to the airport after the game I looked at it and said, ‘Holy crap,’” he said in a recent phone interview.

"I was in shock as to what was happening.”

A fifth-round pick of the Patriots in 2007, Oldenburg also had brief stints with the Jets and a few others, including the Redskins. These days, he spends Monday-Friday working to make Madden’s gameplay better.

But he’s also a part of the Ratings Adjustor team, a small group of evaluators who travel to stadiums, observe players and submit their notes to a fellow employee. That primary analyst takes their notes into account and then has the final say on every player’s precious overall rating, which can fluctuate with each Madden update. 

Now, you may find the idea of sending someone to the site of a matchup to do this gig a bit preposterous. But according to Oldenburg, being there in-person does make a major difference.

"The benefits of the sideline really are for pregame,” he explained. “Just seeing how guys are working in pregame, getting a close-up view of their actual athletic skills, their footwork.”

Oldenburg also likes the “better perspective” he gets once the action kicks off. For example, while focusing on Peterson during the Burgundy and Gold’s loss to Atlanta, he felt like No. 26 missed some cutback lanes, something Oldenburg always finds himself paying attention to thanks to his days battling along the line.

Much like the thousands of social media users who shared various reactions about his job, players take an interest in him as well.

While in Landover, kicker Dustin Hopkins found Oldenburg on the sideline and passed along a request: That day, the team was planning on kicking off short as opposed to through the end zone, so Hopkins wanted to make sure his kick power wouldn't be decreased. 

"They wanna come talk about what we’re doing,” Oldenburg said about the athletes he’s tasked with grading. "Information like that is always valuable."

After his playing career wrapped up, Oldenburg jumped into an internship working on the video game that he loved growing up. “Everything took off” after that 10-week program, and he’s been enjoying it ever since.

"I always had to scratch and claw for everything I got,” he said near the end of the call. "I wanted to find a career that I knew I’d be happy doing.”

In the end, he landed in a career that makes him happy. And as one viral tweet showed, plenty of others would be happy in his role too. 

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