Dan Hellie of NBC4 is reporting that rookie 6th round pick TB Alfred Morris will draw the first start of the season in the backfield. This is a major youth movement on offense, as QB Robert Griffin III [22 years old] will join Morris [23 years old] in the backfield as a starter. It's unclear if the Redskins have ever opened a season with two rookie starters in the offensive backfield. Of course, it has been known from the moment the Redskins traded a passel of high draft picks to the St. Louis Rams for the right to draft RG3 second overall in the 2012 NFL Draft that he would be starting game one at quarterback. Morris is something of a surprise.
The Florida-Atlantic runner had a fine college career, but played on bad teams and was overlooked until the Redskins selected him in the 6th round. When training camp began it seemed as if Morris would have his work out just making the team, let alone beating everyone out for a starting job. The Redskins already had tailbacks Tim Hightower, Roy Helu and Evan Royster and each had started at least two games last year. Hightower was still recovering from a devastating knee injury suffered in week 6 of last season, but Helu and Royster figured to take his carries if Hightower wasn't ready to go. However, Morris was arguably the team's best player during the preseason, leading the club with 195 yards rushing. The key game for Morris was the third preseason game -- usually touted as the most important -- in which Morris gashed the Indianapolis Colts defense, mostly starters, for 107 yards on 14 carries. Royster and Helu, meanwhile, struggled to stay healthy and Hightower never could get his knee right, suffering serious pain soon after getting into a preaseason game and carrying the ball only five times.
The Redskins consider Morris as very well-suited to the Shanahan offense, with his one-cut-and-go running style and tendency to lean forward and pick up extra yards after contact. He also does a very nice job of avoid tacklers and making defenders miss. The Redskins could be taking a chance by using a rookie tailback in pass protection for their franchise quarterback, but evidently they regard it as a risk worth taking in order to get Morris on the field. It remains to be seen if Morris will also play on obvious passing downs or if the Redskins will use Roy Helu, who is a fine receiver out of the backfield, in those situations.