Cow­boys’ Mor­ris ready to re­place El­liott

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS - BY SCHUYLER DIXON AP Pro Football Writer

FRISCO, TEXAS — Al­fred Mor­ris struck the same de­fi­ant tone from the last time the Dal­las run­ning back was pre­par­ing to re­place sus­pended star Ezekiel El­liott.

Roughly the same an­swer, too, head­ing into Sun­day's game at At­lanta.

"I've treated ev­ery sin­gle day like I have the past six years," Mor­ris said Fri­day , a day after a court re­jected El­liott's lat­est bid to de­lay a sixgame sus­pen­sion over al­leged do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. "Noth­ing changes for me. It's just, 'OK, it's an­other start. OK. It's fine.' The ups and downs, they re­ally didn't mat­ter to me."

Early last week, Mor­ris thought he would get his first start since 2015 in place of El­liott be­fore a judge granted an emer­gency re­quest to put the sus­pen­sion on hold.

So Mor­ris was the backup who got one carry while the NFL's sec­ondlead­ing rusher had 93 yards and the go-ahead touch­down in a 28-17 win over Kansas City.

Early this week, Mor­ris was be­hind El­liott again un­til the 2nd U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in New York ended El­liott's last hope to avoid missing games.

So Mor­ris showed up Fri­day as the ap­par­ent starter, although the Cow­boys (5-3) haven't of­fi­cially de­clared him as such against the Fal­cons. Dal­las plays four games be­fore El­liott's next hear­ing Dec. 1.

"I never know when I'm go­ing to touch the field," said Mor­ris, who had 70 of his 116 yards rush­ing this sea­son on one carry in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams. "Sun­day, I have a bet­ter idea at least how it's go­ing to start the game off. We'll see how ev­ery­thing plays out. Of course I'm ex­cited to get more snaps and more car­ries, get more op­por­tu­ni­ties to help my team win."

Mor­ris ran for 1,613 yards as a rookie with Wash­ing­ton in 2012. He was no longer the fea­tured back for the Red­skins when he chose the Cow­boys in free agency last year, about two months be­fore El­liott was drafted fourth over­all and went on to lead the NFL

in rush­ing as a rookie.

The 28-year-old Mor­ris was a some­what sur­pris­ing choice as the backup when the sea­son started be­cause Dar­ren McFad­den led Dal­las in rush­ing in 2015. That was a year after the Cow­boys let 2014 rush­ing leader DeMarco Murray go in free agency.

McFad­den was in­ac­tive the first eight games — a first for the 10th-year back who was the fourth over­all pick by Oak­land eight years be­fore El­liott.

The Cow­boys will now an­swer the ques­tion of whether they had McFad­den in safe keep­ing while they waited for the El­liott sus­pen­sion in a case that's been weav­ing through the courts for two months.

"It's one of those things of peo­ple knew even­tu­ally some­thing was go­ing to hap­pen with this sit­u­a­tion," said McFad­den, who had his sec­ond 1,000-yard sea­son two years ago. "It hap­pened this week. For us, we're go­ing to come to­gether as a team and just go out there and ball."

Dal­las also likes seldom-used Rod Smith, who secured a spot on the ros­ter thanks in part to spe­cial teams but could get a longer look at run­ning back if the Cow­boys try the com­mit­tee ap­proach.

Who­ever's back there, the Cow­boys still have one of the NFL's best of­fen­sive lines with three first-round picks and three-time Pro Bowl choices in left tackle Ty­ron Smith, cen­ter Travis Fred­er­ick and right guard Zack Martin.

Smith didn't prac­tice all week and is ques­tion­able against the Fal­cons with back and groin in­juries. Chaz Green would start if Smith can't play.

"We know as run­ning backs what we can do," McFad­den said. "The team's been around us. They know what we can do out there. I don't have to say much."

It's all the same to Mor­ris.

[AP PHOTO]

In this Aug. 19, 2017, file photo, Dal­las Cow­boys run­ning back Al­fred Mor­ris (46) runs the ball against the In­di­anapo­lis Colts dur­ing the first half of a pre­sea­son NFL football game in Ar­ling­ton, Texas. The Cow­boys’ en­vi­able run­ning back depth will be tested, as will their three-game win­ning streak, when they are ex­pected to face the At­lanta Fal­cons on Sun­day with­out Ezekiel El­liott.

[AP PHOTO]

Dal­las Cow­boys run­ning back Dar­ren McFad­den catches a pass in the first half of a pre­sea­son vs. the Oak­land Raiders in Au­gust.

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