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Alexander’s getting defensive about his versatility
During his first year with the Washington Redskins, Lorenzo Alexander was the ultimate swing guy, seeing action as a reserve defensive tackle and a short-yardage tight end.
Alexander is strictly on defense this year, but that doesn't mean he has lost his resourcefulness. And it may produce his best season.
Alexander is expected to fill the tackle/end role previously held by Demetric Evans, who parlayed starting 11 games into a two-year, $3.8 million contract with San Francisco.
"This is pretty big," Alexander said. "Demetric got a lot of playing time last year and was able to showcase [himself]. To be able to play a lot at end and tackle and show my versatility should really help me out."
It should help the Redskins, too.
Alexander is the only reserve who has experience at multiple positions on the line. He shifted between end and tackle in Sunday's second practice because end Phillip Daniels and tackles Cornelius Griffin, Albert Haynesworth and Anthony Montgomery sat out the team portion.
"He's tremendous, and what you like about him is that every play he is going all-out," coach Jim Zorn said. "He continues to improve and continues to be a real valuable part of our team."
Two years ago, Alexander got his first taste of the NFL, but the new coaching staff decided last August to make him a defense-only player. He averaged 17 snaps a game.
"It was tough because going offense to defense are totally different techniques," he said. "Your base is a lot wider on offense, and the ways you shoot your hands are totally different. Sometimes I would get confused, not even thinking about it, and my body would do an offensive tackle move instead of a defensive tackle move and vice versa."
Zorn: Takeaways will be up
The Redskins' defense posted 19 turnovers last year, but only one came on a sack/fumble recovery. Zorn anticipates both totals to go up this year thanks to a deep defensive line - particularly Haynesworth and Brian Orakpo when he lines up at end - that is creating havoc in practice.
"We're going to get the ball back a little bit more, I can tell you that right now," Zorn said. "We're struggling with those two guys. We've got a good pool of defensive linemen, and if there's any sign of [a player] getting tired, you don't feel bad about switching that group up. I'm expecting our pressure on the QB to be better."
The Redskins' even takeaway-giveaway ratio last year was tied for 16th in the NFL.
Zorn doesn't have pitch counts for his quarterbacks, so Jason Campbell has done a ton of throwing during the first six practices.
Asked if dead arm has arrived, Campbell said: "It's set in, but it wakes up. It's all about icing and trying to get it massaged and loose. This evening, it felt loose. This morning, there was some rain and the balls were wet, but excuses don't get you anywhere."
Campbell's best throw of the second practice was an incompletion - a 55-yard on-the-mark bomb that went through the hands of receiver Devin Thomas at the goal line.
In the morning, fullback Eddie Williams (hamstring) sat out, cornerback Carlos Rogers (left calf) was limited and defensive end J.D. Skolnitsky (left hamstring) and receiver Roydell Williams (left pinkie finger) were injured during practice. The most serious was Williams, who was off to get X-rays to determine if it was fractured. Zorn said he expects Rogers back in a few days.
"I'm not worried about [Rogers], but I'm concerned when a player loses the opportunity to get a little bit better," Zorn said. "We need him to get into the flow of practice and the flow of preparation. But we have to deal with the reality of it."
In the afternoon, Rogers, Skolnitsky, Roydell Williams and Anthony Montgomery (knee) sat out. Eddie Williams, receiver Malcolm Kelly (left knee) and defensive linemen Albert Haynesworth (left knee), Phillip Daniels (left knee) and Cornelius Griffin (right shoulder) did only individuals. Tight end Fred Davis (bruised left shoulder) stayed in practice.
Haynesworth received a Synvisc injection that Zorn called a "normal thing." The fluid is injected directly into the joint to restore cushioning.
Taking it easy
The Redskins will practice only once Monday - at 3 p.m. The healthy players don't have to report for weightlifting until 10 a.m., and the practice won't be in pads.
"I'm going to let the guys sleep," Zorn said. "But if you're injured, you get no sleep."
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