Alfred Morris has three 1,000-yard rushing seasons during his NFL career. He has been to two Pro Bowls. He has more than 6,000 career rushing yards.
Yet, last season when the Giants called in Week 3 and could only offer him a practice squad spot, Morris wasn’t insulted.
“No, no. The place I was at it was perfect timing for that. A little earlier than that I probably would have been like, no, definitely not,” Morris said on Monday, his first day back with the Giants in 2021. “It wasn’t ideal, but it was an opportunity.
“I didn’t think it was a hard place to be in. I’m pretty humble, I’m always looking for an opportunity to make the most of it. I just need a foot in the door.”
Morris ended up playing in nine games, carrying 55 times and gaining 238 yards (4.3 yards per carry). That’s pretty good, especially after he got just one carry for the Arizona Cardinals in 2019.
This time around, Morris was still looking for an NFL opportunity when training camp opened. The Giants, still trying to figure out the depth chart behind Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker, are giving it to him.
Morris is thrilled that his opportunity is once again coming from the Giants.
“It means a lot. I spent last year here and got to know a bunch of the guys, got to know the system, coaches, things like that,” Morris said. “It’s always good when you get a call back. I think that speaks volumes about the person — from a character standpoint, from a talent standpoint. I feel like this is a family.”
Giants coach Joe Judge was effusive Monday morning in his praise of Morris.
“Alfred, last year – look, I can’t tell you how much I feel on a personal level about Alfred and what he did for our team last year, about how he carries himself, about how he is as a teammate, how he is in the team meeting,” Judge said. “Look, I walked by him when I was coming in the building and he was waiting outside for his clearance from his test, and we got to have a conversation sitting outside and it’s just refreshing seeing his face. He’s always smiling and good, great energy out there.”
Having played collegiately at Florida Atlantic, Morris said ‘my vantage point is a little different than most.”
He said that players like Darrell Young and Santana Moss helped him learn how to be a pro.
“I’ve been given it and I want to give it back,” he said.
I asked Morris if, now as a role player and a guy trying to extend his career, he appreciated the NFL more than he did when he was starring for Washington.
“I’ve always appreciated it, since Day 1. I came from a smaller D1 school. I’ve come from a road that most haven’t come from,” Morris said.
“I’ve always appreciated the opportunity, just having a foot in the door. Every chance I get, every carry I get, every snap I get, every chance I get to come to a camp I’m appreciative. That’s always been my approach. It ‘s not promised.
“I could have never did a day in the NFL. I’ve been fortunate enough, this is going into my 10th year. That’s a blessing. I don’t take that for granted.”
Morris, obviously, is not guaranteed a spot on the Giants’ 53-man roster. He will be 33, ancient for a running back, by season’s end. He still thinks he has what it takes to be a good player.
“I told ‘em at the beginning when they called me last year I’m not going to waste your time and I don’t want to waste my time. If I feel like I lost a step I’m done,” Morris said.
“If I can’t do this at a high level anymore and I’m not having fun I don’t want to do it anymore. What’s the point in that? I don’t want to be one of those guys that’s just here to collect a check.”
Morris helped the Giants more a season ago than they could have anticipated. Now, he has a chance to show he can do it again.
That’s all he hoped for.