Morgan, Davis await second chance

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
6:30
PM ET
ASHBURN, Va. -- It's not awkward because it's part of the business. Josh Morgan and Fred Davis were out of the picture, both for different lengths of time. Now they're back in. They move forward and forge the past; the coaches do the same.

Morgan

Davis
"It's only awkward if you avoid the situation," Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said.

The Redskins did not, with coach Mike Shanahan telling both players why they had been made inactive -- Morgan sat last week for the first time; Davis has been inactive since the Dallas game on Oct. 13.

Both, however, are expected to play Monday night against San Francisco (Morgan's old team). Morgan will replace Leonard Hankerson, out for the season with torn ligaments; Davis likely will take over for injured Jordan Reed, who hasn't practiced this week because of a concussion.

"It's not hard [to go back in] because I want to play," Davis said. "So just to be out there and put film on, it's a great opportunity for me."

Translation: He's a free agent who knows his time in Washington is over and wants other teams to see he can still play. He called this season humbling.

"I feel I didn't need it, but it definitely makes you more hungry than anything to make a play," he said.

The coaches said they wanted to see Davis practice harder and, in their minds, that's what he's done.

"Fred hasn't quit," Kyle Shanahan said. "Some guys can mope on scout team. He's worked hard on scout team. He's tried to get better even though it's not the situation he's wanted. It doesn't show on the field. He tries hard, he runs hard, he's tried to improve. He hasn't wasted the last six weeks. I had a strong feeling it was only a matter of time before he got a chance with us."

Before the season it was assumed the Redskins would work Davis and Reed into packages together. But that hasn't materialized. The coaches like Logan Paulsen as their primary blocker and they need Niles Paul on special teams. That's led to Davis being inactive.

Morgan, who caught 48 passes last season, hasn't been pleased with his situation. But he also hasn't been as productive as they need him to be, nor as consistent with his routes or even his blocking. On Monday, coach Mike Shanahan said Morgan had Pro Bowl ability.

"You have to practice at a certain level every day and try to get those talents to work so it becomes automatic," Shanahan said, "so there are no mistakes with depth of routes, catching the ball, running the post route, running the comeback route, blocking responsibilities. As he gets better he'll get more play time. We're expecting him to practice at that level so when he does he'll make those plays consistently. There's a lot of people out there that have Pro Bowl ability that don't play."

Shanahan said similar things earlier this season about Davis, focusing on practice habits. But Morgan, who has 11 receptions and two starts this season, said he didn't think he had to change his approach.

"No sir," he said. "I don't feel I had to do anything different. I feel like if anything from what I did last year, I did nothing but get better this year and I got healthier. I really don't try to worry about that. I just go out and keep doing what I'm doing."

While Davis has expressed disappointment, he hasn't spouted off or made any wisecracks about his situation. Morgan's frustration is apparent. But he said he never doubted himself.

"You believe in yourself, you believe in your talent," Morgan said. "This past week reminds me of everything I went through my whole life, all the adversity, all the setbacks I went through. Everything that I've had to overcome. It's been that type of week. You never stop believing in yourself or your talent. Whatever God throws your way, you just believe in yourself."

Morgan played last season with seven screws in his ankle, remnants from his 2011 surgery. He also broke bones in each hand.

"I don't feel like I have to prove nothing to nobody," he said. "I'll just go out there and play football."

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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