Impact. Circus catches. A 360-degree slam over the crossbar at Heinz Field.
Danario Alexander has done them all. With the San Diego Chargers. Without the St. Louis Rams, who released the skilled wide receiver Aug. 27 with an injury settlement after two stop-and-start seasons. He’s the ex whose memory lingers, the shadow you can’t shake, the One That Got Away. Any sane person should be happy for him, since he fought against a five-surgery left knee that short-circuited his takeoff in the Gateway City.
We can’t help but look back though. See him posing with his new West Coast heartthrob? See the numbers since he signed a one-year deal on Oct. 18: 33 catches for 555 yards with five touchdowns in seven games? See him rocket toward the top of the Chargers’ receiving list, trailing only Malcom Floyd’s 775 yards?
It never would have worked between DX and the Rams. Keep that in mind before reaching for the tissue box. He missed too much time; he played 18 games in navy and gold with the knee and hamstring problems. He was parked on the sideline too often; he sat out most of last training camp as Chris Givens and Brian Quick became hot new things. He was a fling, a fascination, someone who flirted with our imaginations. It was no surprise to see him gone.
But there was possibility. Oh, the potential.
That’s why a trip down Memory Lane includes a pothole. The Rams’ receiving corps remains an area of need. Givens (584 yards), Danny Amendola (576) and Brandon Gibson (537) all have had moments this season. Still, St. Louis lacks a tall deep threat, someone to stretch defenses like a slingshot.
Someone like Alexander. What could have been, indeed.
Perhaps Quick, who has 144 yards receiving, will grow into the role. Perhaps coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead will find a diamond in the draft either next spring or later. Perhaps this will work out, and Sam Bradford will have the toy he needs.
But DX’s recent stat lines make you wonder. They make you stop and go “Hmmm…”
• Five catches for 134 yards with a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10.
Would he have made the difference in the Rams’ loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 6?
• Seven catches for 96 yards with two touchdowns against the Denver Broncos in Week 11.
Would he have exploited the New England Patriots’ secondary in the Rams’ blowout loss in Week 8?
• Seven catches for 88 yards with two touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday.
Would he have broken the Rams’ tie with the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10?
“I’m confident in my ability to play football at this level, and that was the driving force during all those rehab stints,” Alexander told the San Diego Union-Tribune in November. “I always knew that I could compete if I could stay healthy long enough to prove myself. … I’m fine. I feel great. I’m so excited to be a Charger. They gave me a great opportunity, and I’ll do anything I can to help this team win.”
Sometimes, it takes a fresh start to find what works. Sometimes, a soulmate is found in the other conference wearing a different shade of blue. It doesn’t mean the past was wasted or the choice to part was wrong. It means the future had something else in mind.
Sometimes, fate has a funny way of working out. Still, you can’t help but wonder why.