Redskins' Alexander Is a 'One-Man Gang'
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The busiest member of the Washington Redskins is between jobs. Versatile rookie lineman Lorenzo Alexander has just completed his special teams duties during practice at Redskins Park, and soon he will join the offense and defense as Washington prepares to face the Minnesota Vikings on tomorrow night at the Metrodome.
Alexander takes a short break whenever he can, which has become increasingly difficult to do because of his expanding role each week in the Redskins' game plan. So instead of standing on the sidelines for a while, Alexander quickly moves on to work at guard, tight end and fullback on offense, and tackle on defense.
Playing so many positions and having such responsibility on a team in playoff contention would seem to be a daunting task for an accomplished veteran, let alone an undrafted, first-year player still trying to adjust to the NFL. But Alexander prefers to have his hands full, he said, and the Redskins have given him a great opportunity.
"Anytime they're trying to move you around instead of bringing another guy in . . . that's definitely good," Alexander said. "As long as they feel that I can do it, I'm going to try to do it."
Although Alexander, 24, is among many first- and second-year players who have emerged as key performers for the Redskins (7-7) as they pursue an NFC wild-card berth, he is the only one who has played multiple positions on offense, defense and special teams. Considered an undersized interior defensive lineman, Alexander impressed when given a chance to play on the offensive line, coaches said, and he has continued to excel in every new assignment.
In the offseason, the Redskins plan to discuss whether they would benefit more from having Alexander focus on only one position on offense or defense. But with Washington in a must-win situation against the Vikings (8-6) and only two games remaining, Alexander still is needed in many places.
"I don't know if there is anybody else doing what he is doing," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "He is playing a lot on offense, a lot on defense [and] plays on special teams. . . . Those are the great stories in sports where somebody comes out of nowhere. You're sitting here last year going, '[He's] an undersized defensive lineman.' Now, he is probably one of our most valuable players. Stories like that are really good for the future because you have young guys there that are playing."
Alexander seemed to be everywhere in last Sunday night's 22-10 victory over the New York Giants, lining up at guard, tight end and fullback (some teammates have nicknamed him "One-Man Gang"). He made several key blocks late in the game that helped the Redskins defeat New York at Giants Stadium for the first time since 2003, and only the second time in their last seven games there. Alexander also spelled defensive tackles Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston and contributed on special teams.
"He made some unbelievable, pivotal, big-time blocks at the end to help us seal the win," said assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams. "Then defensively, he played a significant number of snaps to help give us a blow there in the second half. He's a real versatile football player. He's a smart football player."
Said Gibbs: "We gave him two of the awards. One for special teams, one on offense."
Alexander has filled a variety of roles since early in the season, but his performance against the Giants was particularly impressive because of what was at stake, players said. A loss would have all but eliminated the Redskins from postseason contention, and the Giants would have clinched a playoff berth.
"He's made himself so valuable to this team," left tackle Chris Samuels said. "All the things that he can do from special teams, to offense, to defense, to tight end, to fullback, to guard, to tackle . . . whatever you ask, he'll do it.