Training camp just wouldn’t be the same if Lorenzo Alexander wasn’t learning a new position, and as the Redskins have gotten back to work this week, he continues his transition to inside linebacker.
Alexander dabbled in the position during last year’s training camp, but only played a handful of relief snaps in that spot during the regular season.
Now Alexander has made the full move from the outside to the inside, and has received a heavy workload while rotating in and out with London Fletcher.
Alexander appears comfortable as he huddles with his teammates, barks out the defensive calls and reads the play and closes to the action or drops back to pick up a tight end in pass coverage.
Alexander says his comfort in reading plays comes from hours spent in the film room with Fletcher, the captain of Washington’s defense. Alexander’s increased speed and ability to hang with Fred Davis and Niles Paul stem from the 25 pounds of weight lost over the offseason.
Alexander – who eight years ago entered the NFL as a 6-foot-1, 300-pound defensive end and the year before last dropped to 270 pounds – now weighs 244.
“It’s just been a work in progress,” Alexander said. “Each year, my position has changed so I’ve had to change by body. I knew I was going to make the change to the inside linebacker this year, more permanently, so I wanted to slim down so I’d be able to run with [tight ends] like Fred and Niles. It’s easier on my body, as far as my hamstrings, because, obviously, the workload, you run more on the inside from sideline to sideline.”
Despite the weight loss, Alexander, who met with his nutritionist to devise a dietary plan and ensure he still got the protein and vitamins he needed, said he actually feels stronger now.
Because of this, he doesn’t have any trouble fighting through blocks on defense or on special teams, where he often draws double-teams from opposing kickoff return units.
“I get double-teams all the time anyway, but I’m just as strong. It’s really about technique and knowing what you’re doing,” Alexander said before later adding, “I’m dominant because I can run, and I’m strong. So that gives a lot of guys an issue, because, do you put a [defensive back] with me, and I’ll be able to throw him out of the way? Do you put a linebacker with me, and I’ll be able to run by him? So that’s why having a guy, you have guys around the league that have speed, … that’s why I’ve been able to excel on teams.”
Alexander doesn’t deem his transition complete, but he is encouraged with how things are progressing. His play has pleased his coaches as well.
“Lorenzo’s a warrior,” Coach Mike Shanahan said. “The way he plays on special teams, the way he plays on defense, the way he prepares himself; and whatever you ask him to do, he’s going to do. He’s in excellent shape. I like his weight. I like the way he has played through the OTAs, transitioning to that inside linebacker position. I’m looking for good things out of him.”