Each year before the season begins, the Redskins players are handed a hard copy of their profile in the team’s media guide before it’s released so that they can read it over and suggest any changes.
Most players give it a quick glance and hand it back without thinking twice.
Lorenzo Alexander, meanwhile, suggested one change for his profile this season: his listed position.
Though previous media guides suggest Alexander had made a move to linebacker during the 2010 season, he decided to cross out “linebacker” this year and replace it with “athlete” (see above).
“I’m an athlete, baby,” Alexander explained Thursday before practice. “I just don’t play linebacker. I’m expected to know fullback, tight end, outside linebacker, defensive end, inside linebacker, special teams — I don’t qualify that as being just a linebacker. That’s an athlete.”
Alexander’s ability to move from one position to another — not to mention on offense, defense and special teams — has been well-documented.
The “One Man Gang” entered the NFL in 2005 with the Carolina Panthers, who picked up the Cal product as a college free agent. He spent the 2005 season on the Panthers’ practice squad, and in 2006, Alexander spent time with Carolina and with the Baltimore Ravens before he was signed by the Washington Redskins.
Alexander made his NFL playing debut with the Redskins in 2007, when he played in 13 regular-season games and in the team’s Wild Card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks as a reserve on the offensive and defensive lines and on special teams. He also played tight end and fullback in goal-line situations.
In 2008, Alexander continued his development on the defensive line, playing in 15 games and recording 17 tackles with two sacks and two passes defensed. The 2009 season brought much of the same: 17 tackles, two sacks and one pass defensed.
In 2010, head coach Mike Shanahan decided to move Alexander to outside linebacker, and he posted a career-high in tackles (47) while also collecting 1.5 sacks and two passes defensed. In 2011, after the team picked outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan in the first round of the draft, Alexander transitioned over to middle linebacker.
Along the way, Alexander has worked hard to shape his body to the demands of his multiple positions. He weighed 300 pounds in 2007 and 2008, 275 pounds in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and is listed at a chiseled 244 pounds this season. He has also developed into the Redskins’ ace on special teams, where he has been a captain since 2010 and should garner Pro Bowl consideration this season.
Alexander shined defensively in last Sunday’s 38-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings with 1.5 sacks, and, with the Redskins up 10-9 in the second quarter, his fumble recovery at the Minnesota 6-yard line set up a Washington touchdown pass on the very next play.
Despite having a standout performance that earned him a game ball from Shanahan, Alexander said he’s not going to expect extra playing time on Sunday against the New York Giants.
“I don’t expect to see anything,” Alexander said. “Obviously, coaches game plan a certain way for each team and certain personnel fits better. If they use me more, great; if not, I’m fine with that as well because I know what my role is on this team.”
And what is that role, exactly?
“It’s just to be prepared for any opportunities that they give me and to go out there and show consistency,” Alexander said. “I’m not expecting or demanding anything from anybody — if they decided to use me a lot, great; if not, I’m fine with that as well. I’m still effective.”
If he is given those defensive opportunities Sunday against the Giants, Alexander said he’s looking forward to getting after quarterback Eli Manning, who has been sacked a league-low five times this season.
“Who doesn’t like sacking the quarterback and putting him on the ground?” Alexander said. “[The Giants] do a great job of mixing up some max protections, and obviously Eli is an elite quarterback in this league and does a great job of getting the ball out of his hands, checking down, and he has some big-play receivers out there that he can always trust as well. And their running game ain’t too shabby, either.”
As for his listed position in the media guide, Alexander’s efforts to be “athlete” fell short. But that doesn’t mean he’s given up the fight.
“It needs to be changed,” Alexander said with a smile. “Immediately.”
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