Yes, he’s that same Alfred Morris.
The snarky Twitter jokes started when a “Monday Night Football” audience realized the short-handed Giants were not running an unfamiliar rookie with a common-enough name. They instead had dusted off Washington’s three-time 1,000-yard rusher and two-time Pro Bowler, who had one NFL carry in the previous 22 months.
Where had he disappeared to? Morris spent the offseason running the acres of his backyard and the streets near his temporary Texas home — and got creative without access to the home gym he left behind in Florida before the pandemic.
“I didn’t want to buy another weight set because I already have one, so I was using bags of mulch to put my weight bar on and do squats — or whatever I could find in my garage to makeshift a bench,” Morris told The Post. “It was hard — sometimes annoying — but I’ve come a long way. I feel like I’m still supposed to be doing this for whatever reason. It’s a love.”
Morris is expected to get more carries Sunday against his former team as the Giants adjust to life without Saquon Barkley (torn ACL) and Devonta Freeman (ankle). He is on the practice squad, but was protected against signing elsewhere this week in anticipation of being activated on game day.
Morris averaged 1,178 rushing yards per season from 2012-15, playing with pre-injury quarterback sensation Robert Griffin III in Washington.
“It was an exciting time,” Morris said. “We came up with an offense that teams didn’t have a lot of tape on, and week-to-week they still weren’t able to stop it that first year. I think it could’ve been a whole different story there if things went the way we thought they would.”
To go with fond memories, Morris has plenty of gear that could become collector’s items when Washington’s team-name change is official.
“I have helmets, shoulder pads, jerseys from different games from every team I’ve been on,” Morris said. “It’s hard to get rid of because I was part of their history and they are part of my history.”
Running back is a young man’s game, and Morris is about to turn 32.
“I’ve been at the top, I’ve been at the bottom and I’ve been out,” Morris said. “A starter, a backup, I’ve been cut, a Pro Bowler. I’ve had the full spectrum for a running back. I’m thankful for the journey so I can pour knowledge into these younger guys.”
Morris laughed off the idea that so many fans and media members thought he was retired until his workload against the Buccaneers. It was almost the case, between when he was cut by the Cardinals on Oct. 22, 2019 and when he signed with the Giants in late September.
“There were times me and my wife talked about just being done, honestly,” Morris said. “I would train and go home and be a dad. It’s really hard to work out by yourself, especially when you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some days really got hard, like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But an opportunity came and I was ready for it. I just had a feeling someone would call.”
The Giants called on recommendation from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who was Morris’ head coach with the Cowboys in 2016-17. Garrett knew Morris to be the type of team player who would take advantage of a first-year rule allowing veterans to sign to the practice squad.
“If the situation was different, I probably wouldn’t have,” Morris said. “Some of the situations I’ve been through prepared me to humble myself. Having history with Coach Garrett and knowing the offense learning curve was going to be very low, I felt it was a situation that was unique and hard to pass up.”
Morris’ eight carries were seven more than he had all of last season. His 28 rushing yards were 11 more than veteran Jonathan Stewart had with the Giants during the 2018 season, when he earned $3.125 million, but showed he was finished at age 31.
Morris is still going.
“When we brought him in for the tryout, I thought he moved well,” head coach Joe Judge said. “You could see he wasn’t too far away from being in game-shape. He’s practiced very hard for us. I’m pleased with how he’s able to perform and get in there and give us some production.”