At one extreme of the celebrity spectrum was the quarterback Robert Griffin III, the No 2 overall draft pick whose smiling, dreadlocked visage and abbreviated nickname (RG3) was familiar to NFL fandom even before he took an NFL snap.
At the other end among rookies in Washington's training camp last summer was the running back Alfred Morris. He was drafted from an obscure university, Florida Atlantic, in the next-to-last round, 173rd overall, after 13 players at his position. The original Redskins depth chart listed him on their fourth team.
Five months later, which player had the better season is open for debate. While Griffin led the Redskins to the play-offs with a captivating hybrid style of play and an uncommon leadership, Morris burrowed to the league's second-highest rushing total, 1,613 yards.
In the victory over the Cowboys that lifted Washington into the play-offs, Griffin was more paint-by-numbers while Morris was producing a masterpiece: 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
"He's out there running over guys and continuing to move his legs, getting those hard yards," an appreciative Griffin, his running ability impeded by a sprained knee, told the Washington Times.
The Redskins coach Mike Shanahan owes his longevity in the league partly to getting the most out of overlooked tailbacks.
With the Broncos, he coached another sixth-round selection, Terrell Davis, into elite status. Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson and Reuben Droughns, none drafted higher than the fourth round by the Broncos, had flashes of brilliance.
Shanahan has been typically coy about whether he regarded Morris as a hidden gem from the outset.
During camp, he dispensed reserved praise, telling the Times: "You either have an innate ability to make people miss or you don't.
"He has it."
Morris's rapid ascent towards the first team was accelerated as much by injuries to others as by his own output. But when he introduced himself to the league with a 96-yard debut, then bunched together three 100-yard days in four weeks before mid-season, he became a poorly kept secret, just like almost everything else in the nation's capital.
Morris is content to cede the spotlight to his teammate.
"I'll never be a star," said the short, squat Morris, who does not look the part of star athlete. "Other people might think I'm a star, but I'm just Alfred. I've been the same since way back when, and I'm not going to change."
He unseated Clinton Portis (1,516 yards) with the franchise's one-season rushing high.
No nickname has stuck to Morris, as much as Shanahan and teammates have tried to apply one. Now that he has become RG3's esteemed sidekick, an obvious tag has emerged: AM1.
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