|Maurice Morris ready to replace Alexander, if needed|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 08 November 2007 16:19|
``It happened last year, I had to step in,'' Morris said of replacing injured Shaun Alexander as the lead running back.
``Of course this is an opportunity.''
Get him in front of his teammates, though, and the 27-year-old who grew up in South Carolina with six brothers and eight sisters becomes a jokester, a show from the corner locker.
At least that's what Morris was Thursday after practice for Monday night's home game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Outside the team headquarters, his clipped answers deflected questions about spending this week of practice as the lead running back because Alexander has been out with a twisted left knee and ankle, to go with his broken left wrist.
But inside in the locker room, Morris comically swiveled his hips and pantomimed twirling a lasso with his right hand as music played and teammates howled.
``He's got a lot of respect from all the O-line guys,'' Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones said of Morris.
``Hard runner, man,'' Jones said, inadvertently contrasting Morris with the main criticism of Alexander during his decline this season, that Alexander runs too tentatively.
``When his number is called, he's got that ability to make plays. Hopefully, he can make some plays when he gets the opportunity.''
It may happen on Monday. Coach Mike Holmgren is waiting to see if Alexander is able to practice Friday before deciding whether to rest him for one game.
Ever since he arrived from Oregon as a second-round draft choice in 2002, Morris has been the slashing complement to Alexander's far more measured running style.
``He plays the game a certain way. He hits things pretty quick,'' Holmgren said.
Last season, Morris ran for a career-high 604 yards while starting eight games, six while Alexander was out with a broken foot. He had consecutive 100-yard games, including a career night of 138 yards on 30 carries in a November win over Oakland.
Holmgren marveled after many of the games that Morris was so battered, he spent entire afternoons submerged in an ice bath.
``A lot of people didn't know if I could carry the workload,'' Morris said. ``But being able to play four quarters and carry the ball as many times as I did in one game proved I could get the job done.''
This season in limited work, Morris is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, to Alexander's 3.3. While Alexander had just 32 yards on 14 carries and got hurt in Sunday's loss in Cleveland, Morris had 55 yards on nine carries - including two key runs on the drive that tied the game.
Morris came within an ankle tackle at the 4-yard line from scoring the winning touchdown on a draw play, which would have been just the third rushing score this season for Seattle. On the next play, Josh Brown sent the game to overtime with a field goal.
Morris is a far better pass receiver than Alexander, and was even before Alexander began trying in vain to catch balls while wearing a cast on his wrist seven weeks ago.
So Morris would appear to fit with Holmgren's intent to throw the ball more and run less, beginning against the 49ers.
But Holmgren said he will not replace Alexander with Morris if Alexander can play Monday.
``Mo is here. We're glad he's here,'' Holmgren said. ``He gets beat up though, pretty good. If they're both healthy, we'll run it probably the same way that we always have run it.''