Dallas Cowboys

Running back Alfred Morris brings a different style to Cowboys

Cowboys running back Alfred Morris values work above personal comfort, and it shows in his performance and his garage.
Cowboys running back Alfred Morris values work above personal comfort, and it shows in his performance and his garage. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Dallas Cowboys running back Alfred Morris is not your normal NFL player.

He doesn’t worry about his looks, nor is he obsessed with the type of car he drives.

Morris made more than $3 million during four seasons with the Washington Redskins before signing a two-year, $3.5 million deal with the Cowboys in March.

Yet he still drives a 1991 Mazda 626 that he purchased for $2 from his pastor as a junior in college.

It still runs good and he is not a flashy guy.

It also explains his presence on the Cowboys, as well as his uncombed hair and scraggly beard.

The Redskins let Morris go in free agency despite leading the team in rushing all four years – including three 1,000-yard seasons – since being drafted in 2012.

His numbers dropped every year – 4.8 yards per carry in 2012, 4.6 in 2013, 4.1 in 2014 and 3.7 in 2015 – and some questioned if he was a running back in decline.

While his numbers have declined, don’t be so quick to write off the player, especially considering Morris’ work in training camp.

Like that old car, he might not be flashy, but he still runs good.

Some in the Redskins organization regret letting Morris go to a division rival, according to sources.

“Alfred is a very accomplished back who has very good vision,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “We have seen that going against him when he was playing with the Redskins. He was a very productive back. He doesn't overwhelm you with physical ability. What impresses you about him is that he has a really good feel for running. And he certainly has enough physical abilities, quickness, speed and strength to take that vision and feel that he has to be productive. He has done that throughout his career.”

Morris’ presence is important to a team that is short-handed at running back with rookie fourth overall pick Ezekiel Elliott sidelined the past two weeks with a tight hamstring, 2015 leading rusher Darren McFadden out with a fractured elbow and Lance Dunbar rehabbing from knee surgery.

Elliott will be the starter this season, but the Cowboys know that Morris is capable of handling the job.

He is the epitome of a professional running back who has the patience and vision to thrive behind the Cowboys offensive line.

But the best thing about Morris is his throwback attitude.

As one of just two healthy true running backs in camp, along with rookie sixth-round pick Darius Jackson, Morris will likely get some action against the Los Angeles Rams in Saturday night’s preseason opener . He also stands to get more work in the exhibition season than he did during his days as the starter in Washington.

And is he raring to go.

“Yeah, I would like to play in all of the preseason games,” Morris said. “Even before, when I was at my old team, I used to try to twist their arm to get me to actually stay in and play because I love the reps. I’m not one of those guys who wants to sit out. I need to be able to go through it and learn and get back in the swing of things. I thoroughly enjoy it. Hopefully, I’ll get to play a lot. I know right now, we’re down a few backs, so I’d love to stay in there and get as many reps as possible.”

Morris said it’s mental thing for him and it jibes with his style of play, getting better and stronger as the game goes on.

“I’ve always been like that,” Morris said. “That goes back to when I was playing little league football. The longer I did more, the better I would get. It shows. But I’m a different breed of guy.”

You could probably tell by his car and his appearance.

“I get it from everybody. Teammates, coaches,” Morris said. “They’re like you need to get a haircut. I know Orlando [Scandrick] was telling me, he’s like do you have any kids? Yeah, I have a kid. And he’s like, he has to be embarrassed for your kid for you to pull up and drop him off at school. I’m like I really don’t care. There are bigger fish to fry in this world, I have bigger problems to worry about.”

Learning to play special teams and improving as a blocker in the passing game top that list. His hair and car are not on it.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Jameill Showers is looking forward to big time competition between the Boys and Rams on Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)

Star-Telegram Cowboys beat writer Clarence Hill talks one on one with rookie Cowboys fullback Keith Smith before the big preseason game, 90,000 fans expected, against the Rams at the L.A. Coliseum. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)

When Tony Romo first got his feet wet as the Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback in 2004, he had the 41-year old Vinny Testaverde as the elder statesman and starting quarterback in the room imparting wisdom and tips of the trade. (Star-Telegram/Max

Cowboys at Rams

7 p.m. Saturday, WFAA/8, ESPN

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram