Running Back Alfred Morris
On the competition for the third down back job:
"It's going great. I honestly love competition. Even my job is not solidified. You may think it is, but you never know in this business, so I'm always working to keep my job, always working to get better, but the competition even between the rest of us is amazing. We're all getting better and we're all learning. It's a new offense for us, so it's a lot. Even more has been put on our plates to know this stuff so we've been doing a great job of learning and going out there and executing and helping each other out. Even though we're competing against each other, we've been doing a great job of being available to each other and if someone has a question, it's not like we'll just turn our back to him, we always answer. Even I have questions. I don't know it all. It's great and our coaches are doing great for us too. He [Running Backs Coach Randy Jordan] always, it's like an open door for us if we have any questions about anything. If he doesn't know he goes to the head guy and finds answers out for us. So the competition has been great and we've been getting better and our goal is to continue to do that."
On if he is happy to see the team move beyond the distractions from last year:
"Yeah, I don't like controversy, honestly. I'm glad it's gone and I'm glad it's behind us and hopefully it stays there. I hope none of this stuff resurfaces. It definitely can be a distraction if you allow it to be a distraction, but me personally I block all that stuff out. I come in every day, I show up to work, I show up to get better and that's always my goal. No matter what is going on around me, I don't let the off-field affect my on-field and that's always my focus when I step in there is football. Outside of that I can care less."
On how much a more physical training camp helps him:
"It helps a lot honestly, definitely with soreness mainly. It's just getting those hits and knowing where defenders are coming from and how to protect yourself. It's a very physical game. You have a lot of big linebackers, D-linemen. The pursuit is crazy on this level, just the way some of these bigger guys can move. You make one move, one too many moves and you have a 350-pound D-lineman on your back and that's never fun. So just being able to get that real-time rep in practice after some of these live drills that we have definitely helps protecting ourselves, getting used to the impact of the game. It is a very physical game. I love contact. I mean, I'm a weird running back. I love it and I look forward to it. It definitely helps me translate onto the field on game day."
On what he expects from upcoming practice with the Patriots:
"I guess for us to get better. It's one thing to go against your own team. I mean a lot of times you know what's coming – the defense knows what's coming, the offense knows what's coming. We know what drills, like, 'Oh, it's a blitz period, oh, it's a run period,' so you kind of expect it. But going against another team, it gives you a different level of competition. Mentally, it changes our psyche. It just makes you want to work that much harder because you're going against a real opponent, not your own teammates. Me personally, with my teammates, I try my best not to lower my shoulder on any of them or I try not to hurt them in a sense, not that I want to hurt any other player, but it just gives you kind of a real-life rep. You're more likely – I'm more likely – to drop my shoulder on a opposing team than my own teammate."
On the difference for him between zone and power running schemes:
"There's no difference. Power is my favorite play, just downhill plays [are] my favorite. I came out of the offense in college, went to the zone, and I've been successful in the zone. Any offense they want to throw at us, I'm able to adapt and adjust to it and fit into it. That's just the type of guy I am, but I love downhill running so to get the best of both worlds mixed into one, I'm loving it. We've been running both in here in camp and both have been successful. It's hit or miss sometimes. Sometimes you're going to get stopped and that's just a good play by the defense, but sometimes we have wide-open lanes and we're running down the sidelines. It's awesome to get a mixture of both of them in there, which is a first for me because in college, high school, even here it's either been zone or it's been downhill running, power I."
On running back Chris Thompson:
"Man, he's a change of pace type of player. I mean, even after some of the injuries he's been through, he still has gears that other guys don't have. He's very fast, he's very elusive and he's a good route runner. He's been displaying that out there, I don't know if you guys have been paying attention. I'm excited just to have Chris back and just what he brings to the table, just a change of pace. You blink once, he's gone. It's just awesome to have him in the mix to compete for the running back job and overall getting us all better."
On if he spoke with former Redskins running back Tim Hightower last week:
"I did briefly, but not about much. It's always good to see him. I hadn't seen him in quite some time. I thanked him for just showing me the ropes when I came in and taking me under his wing – him and DY [Darrel Young] – and I appreciate him. In my mind, I'm like, 'You got me my first massage. You taught me how to take care of my body,' and things like that. So I definitely appreciate him. He told me he's proud of me so it was definitely good to see him and hopefully he pops back out here."
On Hightower's chances of returning to the NFL:
"He looked great. I don't know about physically, but just from a look standpoint, he looked great. I mean, I'm pretty sure he can still do this. He's a smart guy, a hard runner, the years he did play I think he was a very successful back and he still has some juice in him."
On what adding wide receiver DeSean Jackson does for the offense and if it means less touches:
"I never looked at it as if I was going to get less touches having him. I actually got excited having him because he's going to take that extra defender off the box. You know last year, a lot of teams looked to stack the box on us, and it was unfortunate. It hurt our run game, but just having him, they have to respect him. I would love if they stacked the box this year. We could just go deep every play. I would love that. The quicker we can get off the field, the better, so just having him there will just open up our run game, open up our pass game. Us being successful on the ground with the pass game, with play-action, and some of the other things we do to disguise some of the things were doing, so it's just great to have him. Also, Andre Roberts, having him in the slot, he's been doing very good thus far in camp. He's another guy – they have to respect him, they have to honor him, and it just definitely takes one, two extra eyes off the backfield just for a split second which can just make the difference in any game, any play."
On the transition in pass protection from college to professional football: "It's very tough. I think that's one the main reasons why running backs – you might have a big name running back in college that doesn't make it in the pros, it's because he can't pass pro and he can't read the blitzes. He can't tell what's going. And if you can't protect the quarterback, which is the franchise, then you won't be on the field. For me in college, I only had to worry about one side of the field when it came to blitz pickups, but here you have to do a full-field scan, and it can be very difficult. There's so much going on in your head, once you get comfortable it kind of slows down, but at first everything is just bouncing around. You may look to one side too much, and then you've got a cornerback blitzing off the edge that sacks your quarterback, you're on the bench. I think it's one of the toughest things just getting used to being able to see everything but not seeing too much. Just me being in my third year now, I've gotten a lot more comfortable. The game has slowed down even more so now than it did during my first season. That's been good so far."