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Richardson, Morris renew rivalry in NFL

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Richardson, Morris renew rivalry in NFL

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Trent Richardson remembers Redskins running back Alfred Morris with long hair and one of his teammates stupidly yanking on it before a game.

``He got so hot and everyone was so scared of him,'' Richardson said. ``Nobody would touch him. He was a big guy. He was the biggest dude out there.''

Morris, too, can picture Richardson a bigger-than-average kid, years before he started carrying the ball for the Browns.

``He had calves of a grown man,'' Morris said.

The two rookies, who began their football careers bashing their way to stardom on sandlots in their hometown of Pensacola, Fla., - a football talent hotbed - took dissimilar paths to the NFL. But they'll cross paths again and renew their rivalry Sunday when the Browns (5-8) host the Redskins (7-6).

Richardson was expected to have an immediate impact on the Browns, and despite playing for weeks with a rib injury that won't be fully healed until the offseason, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft has lived up to projections. He's rushed for 869 yards and matched the team rookie record with nine rushing touchdowns, a mark he shares with Hall of Famer Jim Brown, who caused a controversy when he called Richardson ``ordinary'' after the Browns selected him.

Richardson has been special.

Morris has been even better for the Redskins.

The sixth-round pick (No. 173 overall) from Florida Atlantic enters this week's game with 1,228 yards and seven scores. Morris is fourth among the league's top rushers and he's the latest in a long line of young backs to thrive under Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who had four rookies top 1,000 yards rushing in Denver.

Shanahan's system has helped Morris, but the humble 24-year-old has earned every yard through hard work and dedication - values he developed in Pensacola, also the home of career rushing leader Emmitt Smith.

Morris arrived at Redskins camp driving a 1991 Mazda, and although he can now afford to replace the car with 125,000 miles on the odometer, Morris has no intention of splurging. And when he visits his parents' home, he usually stays on the couch.

``I actually like the couch,'' he said. ``It's pretty comfortable.''

He's equally relaxed in the same backfield with dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin III, giving the Redskins an offense that's become one of the league's most potent attacks.

Morris is outshining Richardson, but he's not gloating about any statistical advantage over his longtime peer.

``That's not a pride thing,'' he said. ``We're in two totally different situations, two different divisions. I don't take pride in having more rushing yards. I really don't even think about it. I'm just happy that he's doing good and that I'm doing good and just to make it this far coming from where we came from is just an accomplishment in itself.''

There are currently more than one dozen players from the Pensacola area on rosters throughout the league. Browns defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin attended the same high school as Richardson, who was raised by his mother and knew at an early age he wanted to provide for his family.

``People are just really hungry and want to better their lives and want better for their family,'' Richardson said. ``Growing up, I always wanted to make sure my mama didn't have to work again. My mama was working two or three jobs when I was growing up. Seeing my grandma work and care for us, it was nothing but more motivation for me. Pensacola, it's a place where you can feel like, `I'm glad I'm from here because it made me.'

``It pushed me to strive for much that I want in life.''

Morris' success may be surprising to those who didn't see him run over other players for years. Richardson has been watching the 5-foot-10, 218-pounder cause destruction inside the hash marks for most of his life.

``We've always been rivals,'' he said. ``He was the reason why I never made the (high school) playoffs. Then his little brother Shawn was the next reason. I've been playing against Alfred my whole life and him and his little brother have been on the same team. They were the reason why I didn't make it to the playoffs.''

That could happen again.

The Browns are a longshot to make the AFC playoffs, and need to win their final three games to have any chance at the postseason. Cleveland's defense will have to contain Griffin, assuming he plays, along with Morris, who needs 288 yards to surpass Clinton Portis' team single-season rushing record.

Morris didn't have records in mind when he was drafted. His only objective was to win a job with Washington.

``I wasn't guaranteed a spot on this team, so I had to bust my butt in camp,'' he said. ``My goal was to make the team. And, after that, the opportunity will come and when it does come make the most of it.''

He's done that.

There were skeptics who doubted Morris could play at the game's highest level. They looked at his size and college and wondered.

They should have talked to Richardson.

``He didn't get that much recognition because of the school he was at,'' Richardson said. ``They didn't get seen a lot. But Alfred has always been a baller to me and he's always had a nose for the end zone.

``He's always been a baller to me.''

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NOTES: Browns coach Pat Shurmur believes Shanahan will commit to one quarterback Sunday and won't rotate Griffin with rookie Kirk Cousins, who came off the bench last week when Griffin sprained his right knee. ... Sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s allowed the Browns to practice outside for the second straight day. ... Richardson wasn't upset he only averaged 2.3 yards in last week's win over Kansas City. ``It doesn't bug me because we won,'' he said. ``If we didn't win, it would bug the mess out of me.''

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Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 13 and 17 vs. Eagles

Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 13 and 17 vs. Eagles

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the two games against the Eagles. 

Week 13 December 3 (Monday night), Lincoln Financial Field

Week 17, December 30, FedEx Field

2017 Eagles: 13-3, First in NFC East, Super Bowl champions 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 10.5

Early line: Week 13, Redskins +7.5; No lines established for Week 17

Key additions: DE Michael Bennett, WR Mike Wallace

Key losses: DE Vinny Curry, WR Torrey Smith, RB LeGarrette Blount, DT Beau Allen

Notable: Quarterback Carson Wentz is aiming to be ready for Week 1 after suffering a torn ACL late in the season.  

Biggest questions: 

  • If Wentz isn’t ready, the Eagles have Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles ready. Is the real Foles the one who has been a journeyman or the one who starred in the playoffs? And will Wentz continue the freewheeling style that helped make him successful after the injury?
  • After winning Philadelphia its first Super Bowl, will the Eagles suffer from a hangover? 

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 82-75-6; the Eagles won both meetings last year after Washington had won five straight. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1937, Griffith Stadium — With the Redskins trailing 7-0, rookie Sammy Baugh twice led the Redskins deep into Eagle territory. Washington couldn’t push it across the goal line either time, though, and Philly got out with a 14-0 win.

The last time: October 23, 2017, Lincoln Financial Field — The Redskins took a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter, but Wentz and the Eagles took over after that, scoring 21 unanswered points. The Redskins got it back within a touchdown and on a third and eight play early in the fourth quarter, it looked like they had Wentz sacked. However, he scrambled out of trouble and ran for the first down. That drive ended with a touchdown pass and Philly went on to win 34-24.

The best time: January 5, 1991, Veterans Stadium — After getting pummeled by the Eagles in the Body Bag Game (see “The worst time” below), the Redskins qualified for the playoffs and got their shot at revenge. The seedings called for the Redskins to return to the scene of the crime, Veterans Stadium, for a first-round playoff contest.

A near turnover that wasn't was the game's turning point. The Redskins had taken a 7-6 lead and were driving for more when the ball popped loose from Earnest Byner's grasp when he was tackled at the Philadelphia six. CB Ben Smith scooped the ball up and ran 94 yards for an apparent TD. 

Fortunately for the Redskins, instant replay showed that the ground caused the fumble and the call was reversed, with the Redskins retaining possession. The reversal became a 10-point turnaround as Chip Lohmiller connected on a short FG and instead of a six-point deficit, the Redskins had a four-point lead. The Eagles' offense never could get untracked and the Redskins won 20-6.

The worst time: November 12, 1990, Veterans Stadium — As the Redskins went into 1990, the core players on the team, Art Monk, Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic, Charles Mann, Darrell Green, Don Warren, and Monte Coleman, were on or approaching the over the hill side of 30.  The team had gone from Super Bowl Champs in 1987 to a losing record in ’88 to out of the playoffs again in ’89. They were facing their last stand as they went into The Vet for a November Monday night game.

This one became known as "The Body Bag Game". Five Redskins had to be carted off of the field as Buddy Ryan's team knocked a total of nine out of the game, including both of the active QB's. The carnage induced one Eagle to yell, "Do you guys need any more body bags?'' as yet another injured Redskin was lying on the turf. The Eagles and Ryan taunted the Redskins after the game, a 28-14 Philadelphia win that was not nearly that close.

Redskins schedule series

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  and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Offense

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 18, 38 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—offense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on offense; defense up tomorrow. 

Quarterbacks (2)
Alex Smith, Colt McCoy

I think that Kevin Hogan is very much on the bubble as the third quarterback. They got along with two QBs last year, and with Alex Smith having demonstrated great durability during his career, Hogan may well get bumped off. 

Running backs (4)
Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, Rob Kelley

I’d say that this is 95 percent locked in. Maybe Kapri Bibbs or Byron Marshall can make a push for Kelley’s roster spot but his history with Jay Gruden will make it very hard for him to get knocked out. 

Wide receivers (6)
Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Trey Quinn

The first time I did this back in April I didn’t have Quinn on the roster. That was before he was a man among boys at rookie camp and a player who looks like he belongs when the veterans showed up. I don’t know if he’ll have the impact that many fans think he will, but he’s certainly going to get his chance. Brian Quick could steal a roster spot from Harris or Davis.

Tight ends (3)
Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle

The Redskins did not draft a tight end or sign one in free agency so there seems to be faith that Reed will be healthy. We’ve heard that before and it seems somewhat risky to leave Davis, who has Father Time nipping at his heels, and the inexperienced Sprinkle as the only two backups. They may try to make room for an undrafted rookie like Hudson Garrett.  

Offensive line (9)
Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Geron Christian, Tyler Catalina, Tony Bergstrom

I think that Gruden is probably happy with the starters here but the depth is shaky, especially in the interior. The key could be whether Christian is ready for prime time as the swing tackle. That could allow Nsekhe to fill in at guard. Bergstrom is fine as the backup center, although I wouldn’t want to have to count on him for more than a few games. 

Offensive players: 24
Rookies (3):
Guice, Christian, Quinn
New to the organization in 2018 (5): Rookies plus Smith, Richardson 
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (11): Rookies plus new plus Harris (practice squad), R. Davis (practice squad) and Bergstrom (not on the team). 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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An Indiana state police officer tweeted that he pulled a driver over for going too slowly in the left lane. I believe this person is a national hero. 

Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 38
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 52
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 75

The Redskins last played a game 167 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 83 days. 

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