MOBILE, Ala. — Raheem Morris‘ voice boomed across the defensive backfield during a 6-on-7 passing drill at Senior Bowl practice Monday.
“Come out of it!” he yelled to Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Bill Bentley.
Bentley did surge out of his break, and when the pass was thrown to his receiver, he knocked it down.
“Oh! I love it!” Morris shouted.
It was Morris in his truest form. The charisma and energy that helped propel him to an NFL head coaching position in 2009 at age 32 has been on display since Monday’s start of his tenure as the Redskins’ defensive backs coach.
“He’s very charismatic,” Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said.”He knows how to talk to the players. He can really deal with anybody.”
Shanahan would know. He and Morris became good friends when they were neophytes on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff. Shanahan was an offensive quality control coach for the Buccaneers in 2004 and 05, the same years Morris was an assistant defensive backs coach there.
“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve been around from an X’s and O’s standpoint, from a technique standpoint, and he’s got a great personality,” Shanahan said.
Morris appears to be fitting in well so far. He came off the practice field Tuesday smiling as defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and other assistants needled him for doing interviews and delaying their departure..
“I think we can have a nice relationship and really grow together,” Morris said. “It’s obviously a fun bunch of guys, obviously loving and accepting me into the family right now right away.”
Growth will be one of Morris‘ main objectives as he begins life outside a Tampa Bay organization for which he worked nine seasons. He skipped the coordinator rung on the coaching ladder on his rocket ship to the Buccaneers’ head coaching job, and he was interested in landing in such a spot this month.
Even though he’s a position coach with the Redskins, the opportunity to learn from coach Mike Shanahan and Haslett is a satisfactory consolation. Plus, he ran the Tampa-2 defense for his entire nine-year NFL coaching career.
“Mike Shanahan is a great coach,” Morris said. “He’s one of the guys that has been in this business forever, so I can learn a lot from him. Having the opportunity to be with Coach [Jim] Haslett in the 3-4 system and get a chance to grow in my career and professionally develop is something I look forward to doing, and also coming here and being a contributor and helping these guys get better in the secondary.”
Morris is eager to work with Redskins cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson, players with whom he has close relationships.
He got to know Hall when they were NFC South adversaries after Hall came into the league with the Atlanta Falcons in 2004. Morris coached Wilson in the Senior Bowl in 2007.
“I feel very strongly about them,” Morris said. “Hopefully when I get back to the facility, I’ll get a chance to watch tape, get a chance to develop and get a chance to grow with these guys. … I look forward to doing that.”
And when he does, you can expect to see something similar to what he did Tuesday when one of his defensive backs made a play in practice. He ran up to him, jumped and they bumped shoulders in celebration.