Rookies to watch during Cowboys training camp
There is no mystery as to why the Cowboys signed veteran running back Alfred Morris to a one-year, $1.02 million contract on Tuesday.
With star running back Ezekiel Elliott training in Cabo San Lucas while in a contract holdout and not at training camp with the rest of the team, Darius Jackson and his six-career carries was the most experienced player on the roster at the position, followed by rookies Tony Pollard and Mike Weber and first-year player Jordan Chunn.
The Cowboys needed veteran insurance at the position to possibly carry the load if Elliott’s holdout lingered for an extended period of time.
“We were going to look at something no matter what but probably not as much,” vice president Stephen Jones admitted. “Every time you are missing a guy you need to have a guy in here and it made sense for us to get a guy we were comfortable with.”
The Cowboys are comfortable and familiar with Morris, who was Elliott’s primary backup in 2016 and 2017 before playing with the 49ers in 2018.
Morris started five games in 2017 while Elliott served a six-game NFL suspension.
“He was available to us,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Obviously, Zeke is not here. He’s a really good veteran player who we know and we really like. We wanted to keep him last year and he felt there was a better opportunity in San Francisco, so when we had the chance to bring him back we thought it was a good thing for our team. Obviously in Zeke’s absence there are plenty of reps for a guy like that to get, so we’ll ease him into practice here the next few days.”
Comfort, familiarity and fit were also reasons Morris chose to return to the Cowboys. He was on a visit with the New Orleans Saints on Monday when he got the call from the Cowboys and chose to come back home.
“It was a lot of things,” he said. “Comfortable with the system, comfortable with the coaching staff, with the guys here. I’m set up in Dallas anyways. It’s kind of like a no-brainer.”
Morris, 30, said feels better now than he did early in his career with the Washington Redskins when he rushed for over 1,000 yards in three of his first four seasons in the league. He said he can still carry the load as the primary back if necessary.
“I’m always ready. Any of these backs would say that,” he said. “I’m definitely confident in myself that I can be a featured back. I still have it.”
Time will tell if he will need to show it in Dallas.
An Elliott could return could mean a short stay for Morris, but he is ready for whatever. He says he will give it his all.
“No, they didn’t give me assurances, but that doesn’t matter,” Morris said. “I’m Alfred. I’m going to come and do what I have to do. I’m always going to show up and give it my best. Whatever they do on the back end, that’s up to them. It’s not my business.”