Alexander Fights On

Posted Aug 23, 2011

One day after having yet another MRI on his surgically-repaired knee, receiver Danario Alexander again returned to the practice field as determined as ever to make playing for the Rams his full time profession.

“He wants this thing bad, he is a competitor and I respect him for that,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “I’ll visit with him every day to see where he’s at but I think it’s important we make sure the health of our players is right and that’s why we sent him over to get the MRI.”

The results of the MRI showed what Spagnuolo called a “little degenerative change” but what it really amounts to for Alexander is chronic swelling in the knee.

Alexander was given the option to go and have another surgery to clean it out but he declined as he finds himself in the middle of a fierce competition for jobs at the receiver position.

“I had swelling and I just wanted to know what was going on in my knee,” Alexander said. “We got the MRI and it showed that I have a little bit of something going on but nothing serious so I am able to keep going.”

A number of surgeries ago, Alexander came to grips with the fact that his left knee would always be an issue he’d have to deal with and monitor.

It’s easy to forget, too, that this is Alexander’s first full-go training camp and he didn’t have the luxury of a full offseason to prepare for the rigors of it.

Alexander is quick to acknowledge that working out by himself was able to get him in shape but there’s a big difference between being in shape and being in football shape, especially when working through constant knee issues.

“It’s a tough thing, it’s not easy for anybody with regular knees,” Alexander said. “So for me to be out there with a few surgeries and come out here and take the practice grind day in and day out, this is going to happen.”

Alexander spent his offseason working out in Texas, doing weight training and running routes as much as possible. He came in feeling good but without having the experience of a NFL training camp and the constant pounding his knees take throughout a practice, it’s been a difficult adjustment.

“My offseason would have been a lot different if I would have been able to be here with the training staff and working on everything every day,” Alexander said. “With that time off, I had to basically do everything on my own. I thought I was ready for camp but I don’t think anything truly prepares you for it.”
Still, Alexander has been as tough as advertised, playing through some of the swelling and pain that goes with the territory.

For now, Alexander finds himself embroiled in a competition for one of those coveted roster spots at wide receiver, the position with perhaps more competition than any other in this training camp.

Alexander spent time with the first unit early in camp but most of his reps have been with the twos in the past couple of weeks, including in the games. He’s even done some work with the third unit as the Rams cycle the receivers through the various groups to see who steps up to the challenge.

At 6’5, 215 pounds with good speed, Alexander knows he brings an element to the offense that the other wideouts don’t. He also knows he has to prove that he can bring that element to the table on a consistent basis for it to matter.

“It’s a tough competition,” Alexander said. “We have some really good receivers out there. Every day means a lot. That’s the competition. You can’t set the standard of where you want to push yourself because you have got to go above and beyond to come out here and be seen by the coaches.”

All told, Alexander actually hasn’t missed any more time than most of the wideouts on the roster in this camp. He sat out a couple of practices more than a week ago with some fluid on his knee and he missed on Monday.

Mike Sims-Walker, Mardy Gilyard, Donnie Avery and Greg Salas have all missed almost as much or more than Alexander. 

Of course, none of them have the history Alexander does when it comes to the knee. But what he’s lacking in a healthy knee, it’s clear he’s trying to make up for in heart and guts.

“It’s a tough thing, I mean it’s a struggle for all of us,” Spagnuolo said. “He wants it to be 100 percent healthy. He has an injury; he’s had surgery so he’s fighting through it. But he has been doing a pretty good job out here in fighting through it. But I leave that on him. I trust him and what he feels. And again…he is one tough sucker and I respect that.”

INJURY REPORT: As feared, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui is going to miss a little bit of time with what the team is calling a calf strain.

Hoomanawanui did not practice again on Tuesday and will likely miss a couple of weeks according to Spagnuolo.

“He is going to be down for a little bit,” Spagnuolo said. “It is a calf strain is what (Head Athletic Trainer) Reggie (Scott) is calling it and the doctors. It will be a couple weeks; we’ll see where it’s at. At some point we’ll start to evaluate it day to day.”

Elsewhere on the injury front, Gilyard returned to practice along with Alexander on Tuesday. Defensive tackles Fred Robbins (back) and Daniel Muir (ankle) also did not practice in addition to the players who haven’t practice this week including defensive backs Mikail Baker, Dionte Dinkins and Marquis Johnson.