It appears that the One Man Gang is trying to become even more versatile.
Alexander took snaps at the left outside linebacker spot, where he started 12 games last season. But at other times, he slid over to inside linebacker, next to defensive captain London Fletcher, and allowed rookie Ryan Kerrigan — who Washington drafted to play left outside linebacker — to line up on the the edge.
Alexander has spent the bulk of the offseason improving his skills as an outside linebacker and doesn’t plan to hand the starting job to Kerrigan. But in an attempt to increase his value to the team, he also is preparing to play inside linebacker if the need arises. Fletcher is firmly entrenched at one of the inside spots, but Rocky McIntosh is a free agent. McIntosh has said he wants to return, but Alexander wants to be ready.
“You’ve got to in this league,” laughed Alexander, who also is the team’s special teams captain. “They’re always trying to replace me, so I figure I’ve got to learn everything to make it as hard on them as possible.”
If Alexander – nicknamed “One Man Gang” because of his versatility – does end up contributing at inside linebacker, it would be the eighth position he has played in his NFL career.
When he first joined the Redskins in 2006, Alexander was a member of the practice squad as an offensive guard and defensive tackle. After making the 53-man roster, Alexander lined up on special teams, at guard, defensive tackle, tight end, fullback and defensive end before converting to outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense that Jim Haslett installed last season.
Alexander dropped 20 pounds during his transitions from tackle to end and then outside linebacker, and he has lost another 15 pounds this offseason in an attempt to improve his speed and quickness to become a better pass-rusher, and better in pass coverage.
Last week he displayed that improved quickness while covering tight end Fred Davis. On one play, Davis had a step or two on Alexander and turned his head to catch a Rex Grossman pass as he ran down the center of the field. Alexander found another burst, managed to get a hand up and knocked the ball away.
“Covering guys like Cooley and Freddy D., it doesn’t get any better than that. It’s just helped me work on some of my weaknesses as far as pass coverage goes,” Alexander said. “It also helped working on inside linebacker with Fletch and Rocky at my disposal, being able to go through some of the calls and things like that.”