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Alexander a special kind of player

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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com. He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

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ASHBURN, Va.

Dos Equis has the Most Interesting Man in the World.

The Washington Redskins can counter with Lorenzo Alexander.

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Like the outrageous situations involving that suave pitchman in beer commercials, Alexander’s ability to forge a six-year NFL career is just as improbable.

Alexander was once a 315-pound defensive tackle. He is now a 245-pound linebacker who is garnering Pro Bowl consideration as Washington’s special-teams captain.

He learned to play eight — eight!!! — different positions to stick with the Redskins after being cut by the Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens.

Along the way, the 29-year-old Alexander has established himself as one of the NFL’s most benevolent players through his ACES Foundation and other charitable endeavors. The winner of the franchise’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award for the past two seasons, Alexander was even invited to the White House to participate in the annual Easter Egg Roll with Barack and Michelle Obama.

And to think none of this would have happened if Alexander failed to overcome a hardscrabble upbringing in Oakland, Calif. or quit the NFL, as he once contemplated in 2006 when told by the Panthers and Ravens that at 6-foot-2 he was “too small” to play on the defensive line.

“I came up in an inner-city neighborhood, like a lot of people (inside the locker room) where you see guys with great talent but they end up in jail or gangs because they didn’t have any structure or support for one reason or another,” Alexander told FOXSports.com. “I understood that it took my mom, my uncle and several other coaches who really supported me as a young man to keep me on the straight and narrow.

“It could have been easy for me to go the other way. I felt it was very important when I reach that level where I could give back that I should, especially as a Redskin and NFL player.”

That approach carries onto the football field. Alexander prides himself on helping younger players, especially those who need special-teams prowess to stick on the roster.

Alexander himself appears on every grouping except field-goal protection. That’s because Alexander says he lost 25 pounds this offseason per the request of Redskins coaches and subsequently “dieted my way off of that.”

“Now that I’m 245, I can’t take those shots anymore,” a laughing Alexander said.

But he can deliver them.

On a unit that Redskins special-teams coach Danny Smith wants to fill with “body punchers,” Alexander has landed the most blows with a team-high 14 tackles entering the FOX America’s Game of the Week against the host New York Giants (1 p.m. Sunday ET).

Alexander also proved last Sunday that he can still pack a wallop on defense. Given rare snaps because of injuries at the linebacker position, Alexander recovered a fumble and notched 1.5 sacks in a 38-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

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“It was an enormous feeling and boost to my confidence to know I can still play in this league at a high level,” said Alexander, whose role on defense was curtailed after the 2010 season. “Sometimes, players get caught in a box. Coaches can put you in there unless you show them something different. This shows that I’m more than a special-teams player and I have the ability to do other things.”

Alexander wants his teammates to stay just as thirsty for success on and off the field.

“It’s important being a role model for younger players that are playing special teams and showing them, ‘You can take this and play in the league for 12 years,’ ” Alexander said. “If it weren’t for special teams, I probably wouldn’t be in the league anymore.”

In turn, the league is better because someone as inspirational as Alexander is part of it.
 

Tagged: Redskins, Lorenzo Alexander

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