IRVING, Texas- When the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott with the No. 4 overall pick, there was one recurring word that kept popping up when the rookie from Ohio State was being described.
The reason the Cowboys felt comfortable taking a running back so high was his ability to do many things, from getting tough yards in short-yardage situations, to breaking long runs with his speed, to even catching the ball and picking up the blitz.
Being a "complete back" is something all teams covet, but it's not always the right description for tailbacks.
Alfred Morris is well aware of that, even going so far to say he's not one right now. But that doesn't mean he's not striving to get there, even having to share playing time with Elliott and Darren McFadden.
"I feel like we all strive to do that, but myself, I feel like I'm still not a complete back," Morris admitted. "I don't get to do some third downs and much catching out of the backfield, but it's something I really want to do."
Even though the Cowboys drafted Elliott, already have a proven pass-catcher in McFadden on the team and also have Lance Dunbar, who was on pace to catch nearly 90 passes last year before a knee injury, Morris said Dallas is still a place where he can become the complete back he wants to be.
"I'm coming here to have a new opportunity and to build that trust … to help myself be the complete back I desire to be," Morris said. "It's something I've been working on my whole career. I think I might find a way to get over the hump with this opportunity."
Morris said he's "not real sure" about the exact role he will play in this offense, but said he will be prepared for whatever the coaches throw his way.
Morris signed his two-year, $3.5 million deal in March, long before the Cowboys decided to draft Elliott in the first round. But instead of being bitter about the move, Morris said he took the opposite approach.
"I was like, 'I'm going to get better,'" Morris said of adding Elliott. "Competition only makes us all better. We've been out there competing and having fun. You can't forget to have fun. Still a lot to learn and take in."
His new position coach sounded rather pleased to hear Morris say he's striving to become more complete.
"I think we're all trying to be complete backs. We always want to get better," Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown said. "That's good self-awareness by him. But I still think he's a good, solid guy. We're going to keep working at it to get him where he wants to be and where we need him to be, and that's a complete back."[embeddedad0]
After four seasons in Washington, Morris has seen his stats decline each year, including just 751 yards with only one touchdown run in 2015. Of course, Morris did set the bar rather high to begin his career, rushing for 1,613 yards in 2012, followed by another Pro Bowl season in 2013 when he ran for 1,275 yards.
Morris jokingly said he's moved to the "Dark Side" by switching from the Redskins to the Cowboys, and said it will be "bittersweet" to face his old team.
"It's not something I'm circling," Morris said of the 2016 schedule, which has the Cowboys in Washington D.C. for a Week 2 matchup. "You get used to guys for four years and the coaching staff. … But at the same time it's like, 'All right, we have a competition, and you're going to lose.' It'll be good to see everybody, but we came here to do a job and the job is to win the game."
Morris at least knows the ultimate goal. Even if his specific role is still undetermined.