Alexander Back in Action

Posted Aug 7, 2012

When it comes to Rams wide receiver Danario Alexander, talent has never been a question.

At 6’5 and nearly 220 pounds, Alexander has elite athleticism and ability to catch a football, especially many yards down field. What he doesn’t or hasn’t had is a whole lot of luck.

Even this summer, when Alexander was finally able to go without the nagging knee issues that have plagued him since he got to St. Louis two years ago; he wasn’t able to start training camp on the field because of a hamstring issue stemming from his off-site workouts.

“That’s not fun at all because I like to compete,” Alexander said. “It’s hard to come out to the practice field and see my guys competing, my teammates competing against each other and I have to be off to myself trying to get in shape to make sure my body is OK.”

After more than a week of champing at the bit to get back on the field, Alexander finally returned to practice and participated in everything from individual drills to 11 on 11 team work on Monday. It was Alexander’s first full practice of this camp.

“Well, yeah obviously he’s got some talent and we just have to keep him out there,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “That’s going to be the key. We’re going to watch his reps and try to increase the reps and make a decision whether or not we’ll allow him to participate this weekend.”

For his part, Alexander has designs on not only participating this weekend in the Rams’ preseason opener at Indianapolis but also playing at a high level.

Receiver is, perhaps, the one spot on the roster with the most competition right now as 10 players compete for what figures to be no more than six spots. During the offseason, the Rams drafted two more wideouts and signed veteran Steve Smith.

Cracking the final 53-man roster figures to be hard enough for anyone playing receiver but for someone like Alexander who hasn’t been able to even compete for over a week, the importance of getting back on the field to actually battle for a spot can’t be overstated.

“They saw us through this offseason and they kind of have an idea about our abilities and our talent from watching past film,” Alexander said. “But right now, we have just got to show everything on the field. You are only as good as your last play. You have to just leave a positive memory with them. There is a lot of competition. We’ve got a lot of great receivers, guys stepping up at every spot. It’s good competition and I am looking forward to it.”
Alexander practiced again Tuesday though his first two workouts have come and gone without much production of importance. In his first practice back, he didn’t get many balls thrown his way and a couple were uncatchable.

The amount of competition also is clear to Alexander in that he knows he needs to take advantage of every opportunity to make plays and impress the coaching staff.
“I was itching to try to get the ball to make some plays but it’s a part of camp,” Alexander said. “You have got to come out here every day to compete and make every play count that’s thrown to you.”

On the bright side, Alexander has a couple of positives he can take from a camp in which he’s only fully participated in practice twice.

First, Alexander has not been bothered by his perpetually troublesome knee. The ill effects of the nearly half dozen major knee surgeries he’s had since his college career at Mizzou haven’t bothered him in this camp and didn’t back in the spring.

“Everything is good,” Alexander said. “I haven’t had any problems with my knee for however long so that’s kind of a thing of the past. I’m looking forward to just keeping this thing going.”

Likewise, Alexander has been able to stay connected in meetings and during practice to ensure he’s caught up on the mental side of things. He said he has a good understanding of the new offensive scheme and he’s been unafraid to pick the brain of new receivers coach Ray Sherman.

“He’s not behind mentally,” Fisher said. “Coach (Sherman) says he’s been paying attention so when given the opportunity he’s going to go out and do the right thing. It’s just a matter of doing it consistently, physically.”

Therein, as always, lies the rub when it comes to Alexander. When he’s on the field, there’s been no more dynamic receiving threat on the roster the past two seasons. Although he’s been limited to 18 games in two seasons, Alexander has made a difference when he’s played, racking up 46 catches for 737 yards, an average of 16 yards per attempt with three touchdowns.

Because of that production and potential, Alexander knows he can play the NFL level and though he knows he’s started this season behind the 8-ball a bit, he remains confident that his talent will again win out.
“Maybe I took a step back but I feel like my abilities will be able to show and I’ll be able to come out here and compete every day and make this team,” Alexander said.

WELLS WORKING WAY BACK: Rams center Scott Wells hasn’t spent much time on a Rams practice field since the team doled out a lucrative contract to him at the start of free agency.

A knee scope has kept him on the sidelines in this training camp but Fisher said Wells is working his way back into the mix. Wells hasn’t done much of anything on the practice field but has made progress behind closed doors, according to Fisher.

“He’s doing well inside, doing very well with the knee,” Fisher said. “He is taking every walk-thru rep with us. So from a football standpoint, he’s not behind whatsoever. He’s actually doing very well. So he’s on pace and he’ll be able to participate at some point in a preseason game.”

In the meantime, Robert Turner is getting the reps at center.

FLETCHER FEELING FINE: Cornerback Bradley Fletcher believed he was ahead of schedule back in the spring though he wasn’t moving at full speed.

But Fletcher returned to training camp at full speed and has been in the mix every step of the way since camp opened. Along the way, he’s impressed Fisher as he’s worked as the team’s third corner, coming in on the outside with Cortland Finnegan in the slot.

“I guess the thing that is most impressive was as he came back towards the end of the offseason, he was making a lot of plays,” Fisher said. “He’s very instinctive and then had an outstanding conditioning test and that implies that the injury is behind him. He’s been doing a real good job. He can you play both sides; he understands what we’re doing. He’s one of those guys, I think, having not known him well or long, he’s one of those guys, I think, when the lights go on and the pads go on, that’s when he starts making plays.”