Lorenzo Alexander is no lightweight within the Washington Redskins' locker room. The special teams ace is a captain and leader, though normally he's relied on in a niche role and to speak for the team as a whole.
Sunday, Alexander was light on his feet but heavy on impact on defense, getting a game ball for his standout performance that included a fumble recovery, 11/2 sacks and five tackles.
"I understand what my role on this team is: to be a special teams demon and be a captain and fill in on defense when need be, and just take advantage of my opportunities," Alexander said. "It was a great feeling to go out there and finally contribute on defense in a win."
On a much-maligned defense desperately looking for playmakers with linebacker Brian Orakpo out for the season, Alexander fit the bill in the 38-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. And it wasn't by accident.
"We were scheming him up all week, and we knew that they weren't going to be ready for the stuff we were running with Lorenzo," defensive end Stephen Bowen said. "Lorenzo, he's an outstanding athlete. He just waited for his opportunity. Everybody knew he could pass rush, and he just took advantage of it."
Alexander usually gets sparse action on defense, relied on to man special teams units. But given the Redskins' struggles in getting to quarterbacks, the linebacker got the call to try his hand.
The converted defensive lineman made it a point of emphasis to trim down to gain more speed. It showed Sunday.
"He's a very explosive player. Losing weight, being down to whatever he is right now in the 240s and he still is a strong player with pass-rush ability," middle linebacker London Fletcher said. "They were able to run some games, him and the defensive linemen. He was able to get penetration, chase [Vikings quarterback Christian] Ponder down. He's the one-man gang."
But Alexander would hardly take all the credit. Even on his fumble recovery, Alexander cited fellow linebacker Perry Riley for pressuring Ponder.
"Some of that is just being in the right place at the right time," he said. "I was just in the right place, was able to catch it. I wish I could've scored, but I had [left tackle Matt] Kalil all on my back."
Even without scoring, Alexander's short return put the Redskins in position for a 6-yard touchdown one play later.
That fumble recovery, his own sack and one shared with Bowen made it clear that the Redskins schemed right in putting so much faith in Alexander.
"I was very impressed. Not surprised but very impressed," linebacker Rob Jackson said. "He's a hard worker. Anytime he's on the field, whether it's special teams, defense, anything, he makes it his duty to make something happen."
Teammates and coaches know full well that Alexander tries to make something happen every time he's on the field. When he was able to produce as he did Sunday, the game ball was evidence of a job well done.
"It just shows that I'm valued around here even though I've been here for six years now. . It shows that people want to keep me around," Alexander said. "I'm a Redskin through and through. I don't really do it for the glory. I go out there representing my team, playing hard. Just blue-collar, hard-nosed guy. And things happen to good people that play hard."
Against the Vikings, Alexander was rewarded for being put in important situations. But his excellent showing could just be the beginning of what he can do on defense.
"He's just one heck of a football player," coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's a guy that gives everything, and we're going to have to play him some more, obviously."
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