I’ve mentioned before just how fast Anthony Alridge is. (Brief summary: very.) And I think I’ve mentioned how fidgety he is, how he looks fast even when he’s standing still.
That fidgetiness didn’t serve him very well when he was in a walking boot for the last two weeks. Every time I saw him, he seemed frustrated, convinced that he’d get out of the boot at any second and be just as fast as he was beforehand.
I was dubious, to say the least. But he carried the ball nine times last night for 49 yards, an impressive 5.4 yard average, and looked on the football field an awful lot like he did against those fourteen-year-olds a few months back. And he couldn’t have been happier just to get out on the field.
“It felt great,” he told me after the game. “I ain’t been in a uniform for like a year, been in any kind of uniform. I don’t care if it was our away jerseys, I was just happy to be out there. I had fun out there. I wish I coulda got in a little bit more, but I got my feet wet. I definitely feel like I ran hard. I knew my assignments, and I did my best.”
This is not to say that there weren’t things he thought he could’ve done better. “Could’ve scored a touchdown,” he said. “I feel like if I wasn’t coming off the injury — Marko [Mitchell] did a great job blocking off the edge — I feel like I could’ve scored off the edge. You know, just putting my foot in the ground and going straight ahead.”
Alridge’s emergence, along with solid preseason performances from Dominique Dorsey and Marcus Mason, leaves Coach Zorn in a bit of a quandary.
“I think he stands much like where Dominique Dorsey is still,” Zorn told me today. “I think he showed last night that even though he’s had a lot of time off, that he came back in. I look for the mental aspect of it, too, you know? Is he going the right way? Is he running the plays that we’re asking him to run? And he did all that. So he’s in the mix with those two or three guys — Mason, Alridge, Dorsey.”
The problem for Zorn, in fact, is that no one is doing quite poorly enough to fall behind. “I think they’re all finding ways to stand out, and that’s what’s going to make the problem arise for me. Because they’re all doing what we’d asked them to do.”
Zorn shook his head. “They’re all three doing more than just mushing the ball up in there and making the decision easy. They’re actually creating positive plays for us, which is gonna make the decision much more difficult.”
Alridge, for his part, is so focused on making the most of the opportunities that he is getting that he barely even noticed what it was like being in front of 69,000 people last night. “Actually, I was kinda focused on what my assignments were. You know, later on, if I make the team, I’ll try to interact with the crowd, but as of right now, it’s all business.”
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