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Rookie Morris drawing Terrell Davis comparisons

The SportsXchange

He was rightly overshadowed by quarterback Robert Griffin III's NFC Offensive Player of the Week performance, but running back Alfred Morris, his fellow Redskins rookie, also had a strong debut in last Sunday's 40-32 upset of the Saints at New Orleans.

The sixth-round draft pick from Florida Atlantic ran 28 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which, a 3-yard burst with 3:18 left, sealed the victory. That play was also Morris' personal highlight.

"I refused to let him stop me when I met the linebacker," Morris said of his second effort. "That showed my willingness not to be denied."

Coach Mike Shanahan, who started sixth-rounder Terrell Davis in their Denver debuts in 1995 and was rewarded over the next four years with 6,413 yards and 56 touchdowns, has no qualms about starting a rookie back, even a low-round selection.

"From what I've seen through the first game, Alfred will be our starting running back," Shanahan said. "He did a very good job (against the Saints). He had two or three runs in there that a lot of people can't make. But that doesn't mean I don't have a lot of belief in (backups Roy Helu or Evan Royster). Those guys did a heck of a job for us last year and they'll continue to do a great job for us this year, but Alfred will be our starter."

The 5-foot-10, 218-pound Morris, who started training camp on July 30 behind Helu, Royster and the since-released Tim Hightower, who had combined to start 12 of last season's 16 games, is humble enough to appreciate his newfound role and confident enough in his ability to not be intimidated about being mentioned in the same breath as Davis.

"It's a confidence booster for them to have enough confidence with some of the (pass protection) mistakes I made in preseason to put me in, name me the starter, that was huge," Morris said. "I know the coaches are behind me. That makes me work that much harder to make sure I don't let them down.

"Just like (Coach Shanahan) saw something in Terrell Davis and drafted him in the late rounds, he saw the same thing in me. It's an honor (for him) to think of me in the same thought as Terrell Davis who's a great running back. I was able to grow up watching him play. I'm definitely going to continue to work hard each and every day so maybe one day I can be as great as Terrell Davis."

Like Davis, Morris ran with power against the Saints.

"As it went on, I got in a groove," Morris said. "As a rookie, I was able to produce on this stage, in this environment. It's huge. I played hard. I'm feeling good (after 28 carries). I'm used to playing like that. I give hits and I take hits. I can take a workload. Twenty eight carries, people are like, 'Are you tired?' I was fine. They could have gave me 30 more and I would've been fine."
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