- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2012

Everybody fumbles. That’s the message from Washington Redskins fullback Darrel Young when he’s asked about rookie Alfred Morris putting the ball on the ground.

Young has name-dropped Chris Johnson and Emmitt Smith, among others, to rationalize that Morris occasionally will fumble. The rookie did so in Sunday’s overtime victory against the Baltimore Ravens, but he also rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Morris and coach Mike Shanahan aren’t worried his losing two fumbles in as many games.

“I learned a lesson a long time ago back in college, my fullback coach in college, he said you got to have a short-term memory to play this game,” Morris said. “It’s terrible, but at the same time there’s a lot more game to be played. That happened early on in the game, and if I hung my head, I wouldn’t be able to go out there and help my team out.”

Shanahan said fumbles are going to happen, explaining Morris‘ recent issue as a result of a short week between facing the New York Giants on Monday night and then the Ravens.

Morris, who holds the franchise’s rookie rushing record with 1,228 yards, has lost only three fumbles. Still, the Redskins will address the issue at practice.

“We’ll get back to trying to strip the ball, put him in situations where he gets those good habits back,” Shanahan said. “But he’s a guy you really trust because it means a lot to him. If you do get the ball [out], usually it’s a pretty good hit or three or four guys standing a guy up and doing a great job of just pulling the ball out.”

Once the ball is out and Morris gets off the field, he tries hard to forget about it. He’s not using it as fuel.

“If anything, fumbling makes me mad, and I learned a long time ago I can’t play angry,” Morris said. “That’s just not the type of person I am. It only hurts me more, so I have to just block it out, short-term memory and move on.”

Field goal protection stands up

Kicker Kai Forbath has earned praise for going 14-for-14 on field goal attempts since the Redskins signed him in October. But Sunday, after Forbath’s 34-yard game-winner, special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander brought attention to the eight other players on the field who don’t snap, hold or kick.

“The biggest thing this year, though, is protection is so much better,” Alexander said. “Guys in the front are giving great pad level and giving him a chance to get the ball up and get it through.”

Graham Gano was blocked on five attempts last season; the only block this year was on an extra point that Forbath clearly kicked too low.

Special teams coordinator Danny Smith made it an offseason focus and kept up the pressure on the field goal protection unit, Alexander said, which has made the difference.

But that could change at any moment.

“When one guy messes up, as we proved last year, obviously, good things don’t happen,” Shanahan said. “So we’ve worked on it, our guys are pretty solid, but it only takes one guy to mess up and all of a sudden you’re back to the drawing board, so hopefully we can keep it up.”

Cooley gets increased time

Veteran tight end Chris Cooley was a more visible part of the offense Sunday, seeing action on 17 percent of snaps. Niles Paul took just 7 percent of offensive snaps.

Cooley hasn’t been asked to do much since coming back after Fred Davis’ season-ending injury. But against the Ravens, he was counted on to block, which is what he now does best.

“Chris is playing his role extremely well. That’s what you’ve got to have,” Shanahan said. “You’ve got to have everybody understanding their role, and when they do get their opportunity they take advantage of it.”

Injury updates

Left tackle Trent Williams (thigh) and inside linebacker London Fletcher (ankle) are improving, Shanahan said. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall (ankle) came out of Sunday’s game fine, if not a little bit sore.

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