Alexander Embraces Hybrid Role, but No Offense So Far

Defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander steps into a hybrid tackle-end role perfected by Demetric Evans last year, and plans to play a lot Thursday.
Defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander steps into a hybrid tackle-end role perfected by Demetric Evans last year, and plans to play a lot Thursday. (By Joel Richardson For The Washington Post)
Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lorenzo Alexander played a key role on offense, defense and special teams during the Redskins' late-season run to a playoff berth in 2007. Last season, he was an effective pass-rush specialist as a defensive tackle.

In camp this season, Alexander has primarily worked in the important defensive tackle-defensive end hybrid position that Demetric Evans excelled at last season. Evans left in free agency to join the 49ers, and Alexander hopes to be as productive in his new job for the Redskins.

"I think I've been able to pick everything up, as far as playing end, fairly well," said Alexander, who is expected to play significantly against the Ravens on Thursday night.

"Our veteran tackles have had limited practice time, so I've had to take more reps at tackle. I think I'm light years ahead of where I was last year, in terms of my pass rush and quickness."

One of the big questions among Redskins fans, judging from e-mail, is whether Coach Jim Zorn plans to use Alexander on offense this season.

"Last year, I didn't do anything [on offense] in camp, and then they told me to go in on goal line and short-yardage plays," he said. "It was mostly at tight end. I only needed to know four or five plays, and I was only blocking the guy over me, so it's not too complicated.

"Last year, I probably got in there once or twice a game. That probably equates to 25, 30 plays. I haven't done anything yet, so I just have to wait and see if they need me. But I can go out and catch a pass. That's what I'm really waiting for. I want them to throw me the rock."

On Sept. 4, Alexander said his charitable foundation will provide $100 each for 40 Northern Virginia children whose parents are unemployed to use to shop for school clothes and supplies at a Target store in Alexandria.

"They've got to get ready for school just like we're getting ready for the season," Alexander said. "I'm just trying to help them to that."

-- POSITION BATTLING: The Redskins' game against Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium will kick off the preseason, as well as many key position battles including Z-receiver (flanker), between second-year wideouts Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly; strong safety, between Reed Doughty and Chris Horton; and place kicker, between Shaun Suisham and Dave Rayner.

At quarterback, Todd Collins and Colt Brennan supposedly are competing, to a degree, for the No. 2 position.

Collins has been a steady hand as a No. 2 quarterback. He had a memorable role in helping the Redskins reach the playoffs in 2007 after Jason Campbell suffered a season-ending injury. Brennan is very popular with fans and extremely confident. He also has some ability -- there's no doubt about that.

But if Campbell is injured or ineffective, would you rather call on the steady old timer or the brash gunslinger? Most people would prefer the former, but perhaps the coaching staff will see things differently. And if Brennan, in the group's opinion, took a major step forward in the preseason, well, stranger things have happened.

Another major story line will be the play and physical condition of the offensive line. The unit, to this point, has not had the reps together the coaching staff would have preferred because of injuries.

Punt returns against the Ravens will be handled on a committee basis, Zorn said. Wide receivers Keith Eloi and Marques Hagans and running back Dominique Dorsey will join Antwaan Randle El, the Redskins' primary punt returner the last three seasons.

-- Jason Reid

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