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Rookie Watch: Morris Sneaks Into Top 5

Posted by Andrew Walker on October 11, 2012 – 11:51 am

(Photo by ExtremeSkins)

Alfred Morris is just now getting some national love for his stellar rookie season thus far for the Washington Redskins.

For example: the running back this week joins Robert Griffin III in the top five of ESPN.com Matt Williamson’s weekly “Rookie Watch” column, which ranks the best rookies of the 2012 season.

Williamson had some high praise for Morris, the Redskins’ sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic in April’s NFL Draft, who comes in at No. 5 this week:

“Alfred Morris is exactly what Mike Shanahan looks for at running back. Shanahan wants a physical, downhill runner who does not put the ball on the ground and stays strong for 60 minutes.

Speed can be compromised for these traits and toughness. Morris fits this mold perfectly. Having a great running quarterback in the same backfield can help a running back’s production a great deal, but Morris’ tape speaks for itself — and he did play very well with Robert Griffin III out of the lineup in Week 5.

But a question with Morris lingers. Is he the long-term answer at the position for Shanahan, or does Washington look to upgrade in the offseason? Although Morris will never be confused with Adrian Peterson or Trent Richardson, I think Washington should, and will, view Morris as the answer for at least one more year. He has proved capable of being a plus player at the position, and if he continues to show these bell-cow traits, Washington would be best served to use its limited offseason resources to improve other areas.

Remember, the Redskins paid a draft ransom for Griffin, which limits their draft spending power going forward. The offensive line and especially the secondary need to be addressed far more than running back. But even if Washington had the usual draft currency, Morris deserves to be the man entering 2013.

If anything, maybe the Redskins add a change-of-pace runner with great speed and elusiveness to spell him. But overall, Washington has a real find in Morris.”

Morris made his “Rookie Watch” debut two weeks ago when he came in at ninth overall. Last week, after his first-career 100-yard rushing performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he increased two spots to No. 7. This week, after another 100-yard performance — this time against the Atlanta Falcons — he moves up another twos spots.

Will another strong performance from Morris this week against the Minnesota Vikings push him up the list even more?

Griffin III, meanwhile, comes in at No. 2 in this week’s “Rookie Watch,” which is where he stood two weeks ago. He had taken the top spot last week after guiding the Redskins to a final-second win on the road over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the concussion he suffered in last Sunday’s game against the Falcons coupled with a come-from-behind performance by Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck pushed him back down to second.

Here’s what Williamson had to say about Griffin III this week:

“Week after week in this space I have showed my concern for Griffin’s health, considering how many hits he has been taking. Well, in the third quarter against Atlanta, he was finally injured (concussion) to the point that he had to leave the game. While he was in the game, the Redskins didn’t throw the ball downfield and Griffin’s receivers had some drops. I just hope he isn’t rushed back too early.”

To see the rest of the list click here, but you’ve got to have ESPN Insider access.

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