With Washington Redskins tight end Stephen Alexander still ailing from a strained hip flexor, fullback Larry Bowie may be activated for the first time this season Sunday against Detroit.

Alexander suffered the injury several weeks ago and has been held to one catch in the last two games. An MRI exam conducted Monday revealed inflammation, but no tear of the muscle around the upper thigh. Rest is the primary thing Alexander needs and, at best, he's expected to be ready to practice late this week.

Coach Norv Turner said yesterday he intends to proceed with plans to get Alexander ready for Sunday.

At the same time, he'll prepare Mike Sellers to take more snaps at tight end, which would create an opening for Bowie to pick up the slack at fullback.

Sellers (6 feet 3, 260 pounds) has alternated this season between fullback and tight end. He has been especially useful as a blocking tight end. Receiving isn't his forte, although he did have a touchdown reception on a deflected ball in Sunday's 20-17 overtime win against Philadelphia.

It was Sellers's second touchdown reception of the season; his first came against Dallas in Week 6.

Assuming Sellers lines up at tight end, that would leave an opening for Bowie, who has been a valuable blocker in years past.

Bowie broke his left ankle during practice before the final game of the preseason. He was cleared to play last month, but has been inactive since.

The Other D. Smith Is Done

Tackle Derek Smith, the Redskins' fifth-round draft pick from Virginia Tech, will not play this season after team officials placed him on the reserve, non-football injury list. Smith injured his knee during the scouting combine.