ASHBURN, Va. (CBSDC) — Alfred Morris knows he’s set the bar incredibly high for himself.
This week, the Washington Redskins, along with 28 other NFL teams, will hold Organized Team Activities and begin laying the groundwork for what they hope will be a second consecutive fruitful season as franchise’s best draft class in decades have shed their rookie skin.
Like the Redskins, who improbably rattled off seven straight wins to close the regular season and capture their first division title since 1999, Morris was an overachiever in 2012.
A little talked about (at the time) sixth-round draft pick out of Florida Atlantic, Morris benefited in training camp from a lingering knee injury to Tim Hightower, the suspect foot of Roy Helu, and a strong performance to find himself atop the depth chart entering Week 1.
He would not look back, breaking Clinton Portis’ franchise single-season rushing yards record (1,613 yards) and racking up 13 touchdowns (a rookie franchise record).
So what can he possibly do for an encore?
That’s a good question.
During a recent interview with teammate Adam Carriker and I on our radio show, 4th & Pain, Morris said he doesn’t even know. A lot depends on how many carries he gets.
Video: Alfred Morris Full Interview
A healthier backfield may lead to a decrease in touches which Morris says he’s fine with. Then again, he also describes himself as “a work horse” and would welcome the opportunity to top last season’s 335 rushing attempts.
But, as he says, “that call is on the O.C. … I’ll let coach Kyle (Shanahan) take care of all that.”
“If they want to keep me in there that’s fine. If they want to give me a breather, that’s fine. … I can carry a heavy load and not be beat down.”
However many or few carries he gets, Morris wants to again maximize his opportunities. More still, he wants to make certain he avoids a sophomore slump.
He asked Carriker, a first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams and the team’s rookie of the year in 2007, what advice he could offer in order to avoid a production decline in his second year.
The defensive end’s advice was to the point.
“First off all, don’t listen to anybody who says sophomore slump, because, I don’t think you’re going to have one whatsoever,” said Carriker. “And second of all, the best thing you can do is what I see you doing and that is taking care of your body and staying healthy. You’ve proven that you can play, you’re obviously a very good player.”
“You led all rookies, ahead of Trent Richardson who was just in the (NFL Network’s) Top 100 list in the NFL and the No. 3 overall pick … you had more rushing yards than him. You were only second to Adrian Peterson. So, you can play, there’s no doubt about it… Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
Ever humble, Morris simply replied: “Well, thank you.”
He had just left church prior to the interview and was likely sipping a class of milk, too.