Cowboys’ Morris sees friends, not foes, in return to DC
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Alfred Morris won’t be trying to prove the Redskins wrong when the Dallas running back faces his former team for the first time Sunday.
The affable veteran looks forward to renewing acquaintances in Washington, including his old quarterback, and doesn’t sit around wondering how a team could give up on him just two years after he was one of the NFL’s most productive players over his first two seasons.
“I know people are like, ‘You say that,’” Morris said, anticipating the reaction in the middle of his answer. “But it’s not cliche. This is me being me. I never had to feel like I had to prove anything. I feel like if I have to try to do that, then I wouldn’t be being myself.”
Any other week, Morris will pull for the Washington running game, not revel in how badly it struggles, such as in the season-opening loss to Pittsburgh.
And he sent Kirk Cousins a text telling him to make sure to “have fun” before the first game that they weren’t in the Redskins backfield together. That’s what he used to tell him in the locker room.
Morris is also looking forward to seeing the stadium workers in Washington after forming special bonds with some of them. If he can’t see them for dinner Saturday night, he’ll touch base before the game, just as he used to.
In other words, no hard feelings, even though Morris always hoped to spend his career with one team.
“A lot of people think they’re bigger than the game or ‘That won’t happen to me,’” Morris said.
“I accept what it is. They had a different plan. I wasn’t a part of that. I’m moving on, but I still have the opportunity to keep my dream alive and playing this game as long as I can. It happened to be with a rival team.”
Morris, whose numbers slipped after Jay Gruden replaced Mike Shanahan as coach, said the Cowboys were a late entry among teams pursuing him in free agency.
And the fifth-year back has often said he didn’t regret his choice even after Dallas chose Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the draft.
At that time, Darren McFadden also was healthy after leading the Cowboys in rushing last season. When McFadden broke an elbow in a household accident, the early season plan became clear: Elliott starting, and Morris backing him up.
The opening 20-19 loss to the New York Giants was the first time in 65 games that Morris didn’t start.
“Alfred will handle his business like a pro, no matter what happens,” Gruden said. “He handled his exit here like a pro. He handled being No. 2 there like a pro. He’s going to be a pro no matter how you cut it. That’s the type of guy he is.”
Morris was the most efficient Dallas back in the opener with seven carries for 35 yards, a 5-yard average. Elliott averaged half that in 20 carries. But it doesn’t change Morris’ answer about his role.
“Like I always say whether I have one carry or 100 carries, it doesn’t matter,” said Morris, who ran for nearly 3,000 yards in his first two seasons with the Redskins, making the Pro Bowl both times. “I got good work, better than what some backups get, and that’s OK with me.”
Most of Morris’ production in Washington came with Robert Griffin III at quarterback, particularly their rookie season together in 2012 when the Redskins beat Dallas in the regular-season finale with a playoff berth on the line, highlighted by Morris’ career-best 200 yards rushing.
But Morris formed a bond with Cousins that endures, with their wives remaining close as well.
“Phenomenal teammate,” Cousins said. “Never made it about himself and he’s a guy who I’ll be a friend with for life. I’ll be watching him and following his success the rest of his career.”
NOTES: G Ron Leary (groin) was listed as a full participant in practice after being limited before the opener. ... LT Tyron Smith wasn’t listed on the injury report and left the game against the Giants briefly with a neck stinger. ... DE Charles Tapper (back) was in pads for the early portion of practice, but listed as a non-participant.
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