With London Fletcher freshly inked to a new contract and fellow inside linebacker Perry Riley set as the other starter as he enters his third pro season, the Washington Redskins plan to groom Lorenzo Alexander as the primary backup at both positions.
The Redskins last season used Keyaron Fox and Rocky McIntosh (after Riley took his starting job halfway through the year) as backups at the two inside spots. But both had inconsistent 2011 campaigns and are free agents.
Enter Alexander -- the team’s special teams captain and jack-of-all-trades player (he has played seven different positions during his five-year career).
Alexander, who in 2010 started 12 games at outside linebacker, experimented with the inside linebacker position last offseason in player-led workouts and off and on during training camp. He did that to help make himself more versatile following the addition of 2010 first-round pick Ryan Kerrigan, who last season never missed a snap at the outside linebacker position opposite Brian Orakpo.
Now, it appears Alexander showed coaches enough in those practices for them to move him to the inside.
“I’m sure I’ll still be used all over the place, but my primary focus this offseason will be inside linebacker, fully learning the position and responsibilities,” Alexander said.
The Redskins have two promising young players as backups at outside linebacker in Rob Jackson, who last season spelled Orakpo, and 2010 seventh-rounder Markus White. But for now, Alexander is the only potential inside linebacker under contract.
Alexander in the last two years has leaned heavily on Fletcher as he has learned the linebacker position, and he says being able to further learn from Fletcher -- who has played 224 consecutive games and over the last five seasons has served as the anchor or Washington’s defense – will further aid his development.
“He’s so knowledgeable, so to be able to learn from him as I transition to inside linebacker and continue to develop in my sixth year is going to be huge,” Alexander said. “I’ll be able to play behind him and learn, and then when he retires, if I’m still fortunate to be around here, I’ll be able to slide right in and take over.”