Lorenzo Alexander welcomes expanded role on defense


Lorenzo Alexander (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said Thursday he would welcome remaining in the Washington Redskins’ defensive rotation even if that means cutting back on some of his special teams responsibilities.

“That’s obviously probably going to change my role up a little bit,” Alexander said in the locker room at Redskins Park. “It’s forever evolving on this team. So whatever the coaches decide to do, that will be great. If it’s playing more on defense or continuing my role on special teams, that’s fine. I’ll just be ready for any opportunity I get.”

Alexander, the Redskins’ special teams captain, was given an expanded role on defense in last Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings. Alexander played 27 snaps on defense and responded with 1-1/2 sacks and a fumble recovery that set up a touchdown.

Playing close to 30 snaps on defense requires curtailing his role on special teams, Alexander said.

“It comes down to a conditioning standpoint, and I don’t know if there’s really anybody in the league that can play 30 or 40 snaps on defense and still be able to run down on punts and kickoffs and perform at a high level,” Alexander said. “It’s hard to do. I’ve kind of had some experience doing it in 2010 so I know what to expect. But when you’re out there rushing the passer, [there’s] really nothing more exhausting than doing that. It’s definitely going to take a toll. But you’ve got to be a professional and still step up and make plays on special teams.”

There’s no precise formula, Alexander said, for how many plays he can take on special teams if he gets about 30 snaps on defense.

“It’s not the [number of] snaps,” he said. “It’s just covering all that distance [on punts and kickoffs], then having to fight off double-teams. I mean, that’s just an exhausting feat in itself.”

Special teams coach Danny Smith would rather have Alexander miss some plays as a blocker on the Redskins’ punt and kickoff returns, Alexander said, than as a tackler on the coverage units.

“It’s really up to Danny,” Alexander said. “Sometimes he’ll take me off of returns. He’ll never take me off of coverage. He does a good job of trying to put guys in there on some of those kickoff returns and punt returns that can kind of fill in for me.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.

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