Not Shanahan. He’s almost as good at concealing information as he is winning games when partnered with top-notch quarterbacks. Shanahan rarely tips his hand regarding his true opinion of players — especially newcomers about whom he’s truly excited.
“Well, I like him,” Shanahan said of Morris. “If I didn’t like him, he wouldn’t be on our football team.”
Knowing Shanahan, “like” probably doesn’t begin to describe it. After two years searching for a workhorse running back, Shanahan may have finally found one. There’s something about this hard-charging sixth-rounder that should stir excitement among Redskins fans. Shanahan’s low-key approach regarding Morris’s eye-opening start is straight from the playbook he used with another once-obscure sixth-rounder: Terrell Davis.
Morris hasn’t played in a regular season game. It would be downright silly to draw too many comparisons to him and Davis, a former league MVP and Super Bowl MVP whose career was cut short by a knee injury, but there are similarities. What’s certain, though, is that Shanahan has discovered another talented running back from the depths of the draft.
It’s fair to ask, “Is it really possible for the Redskins to tell much about Morris from exhibition games?” The answer: They’ve surely seen a lot of reliable clues.
While injured second-year backsRoy Helu and Evan Royster watched from the sideline in the preseason, Morris had a team-high 195 yards rushing (with a five-yard average). Each time Shanahan and his son Kyle, the Redskins’ offensive coordinator, gave Morris an opportunity, “he just kept raising eyebrows,” veteran wide receiver Santana Moss said. “It was like, ‘Man, where did this hungry young guy come from?’ Coaches couldn’t take him out the game.”
At 5 feet 10 and 218 pounds, Morris is in great football shape, as Shanahan would say. That’s what everyone initially noticed after Morris, drafted out of Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, reported to Redskins Park for the first time. His ability to produce while carrying a football was next on the list. Morris is “perfect for this type of offense,” veteran inside linebacker London Fletcher said. “One cut . . . then get down the field.”
Some players accumulate big preseason stats against third- and fourth-string competition. Granted, some of those guys are only delaying careers as personal trainers. A lot of backs have fared well under those circumstances.