In his seven-year career with the Washington Redskins, Lorenzo Alexander shaped himself into a leader both on and off the field primarily because he adopted an attitude to do whatever it took to help his team win games.
During his time in Washington, Alexander took on many shapes to play several positions – including tight end, offensive line, defensive line and linebacker – before his talents as a special teams ace landed him a spot in the Pro Bowl in 2012.
On Sunday, Alexander will suit up for the first time against his former team. His Cardinals take on the Redskins at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Alexander said it'll be "fun" to play against the Redskins, particularly against the likes of defensive lineman Kedric Golston, with whom he played alongside throughout his entire career in Washington.
"Anytime you line up against your brother, you want to go out there and win and dominate because a lot of these guys I spent a lot of time with in the offseason and training with," Alexander told the D.C.-area media Thursday during a conference call. "You definitely want to have bragging rights. So, it's definitely going to be a fun experience for me so I'm looking forward to it."
Alexander hasn't missed a beat with the Cardinals, despite missing most of the 2013 season with a foot injury. He's been named special teams captain both years in Arizona, a position he accepted with pride while playing for the Redskins.
His head coach, Bruce Arians, said Alexander has been as advertised as a team leader.
"He's not afraid to speak his peace and get everybody fired up," Arians said on Wednesday. "He plays great on special teams for us and if needed, we could still use him at inside or outside linebacker."
Alexander said it was difficult at first to move on, but said he's since settled into his role as both a special teams ace and outside linebacker in Arizona.
"Last year obviously it was difficult leaving there after being there so long and transitioning out," he said. "But now being out here with the Cardinals for the last two years and really immersing myself with the community, the organization and getting to know these guys, I feel at home now. So, that feeling has kind of passed and I'm glad it kind of happened this year versus last year as far as us playing each other."
Alexander's former teammates said they're also looking forward to the chance to line up against him during Sunday's game.
Tight end Niles Paul – whose role on special teams was increased with Alexander's departure after the 2012 season – said Alexander was "kind of like a mentor" to him.
"He's kept in touch as much as possible," Paul said. "I know he's busy, and I'm busy, so I'm going to be excited to see him, and this time I get to play against him, because I know I've talked a lot of trash when he was here."
Paul said the Redskins are certainly missing a guy like Alexander in their lineup, but are doing their best to move on without him.
"When you lose a special teams guy like that, obviously you miss him," Paul said. "All we can do is try our best to continue to replace him."
Alexander said the key to solid special teams play often comes down to just one or two players executing their jobs on any given play.
"It's one or two guys out of place and that's all it ever takes for anybody to have a big return on any special teams unit," he said. "Or one guy – if you get a blocked punt, it's never scheme, it's just one guy with bad technique. We've had our own issues here as well."
As for his future in the league, Alexander admitted he knows his time is running short.
"I'm feeling good," he said. "Being 10 years in the game, I can definitely tell it, but I'm having fun being 3-1, really enjoying it and just appreciating everything I have, especially sitting out last year."
Alexander on Thursday didn't rule out a return to D.C. – but in a different role.
"I know I'm coming up to the end of my career so hopefully maybe I'll be working with some of you guys here soon," he said.
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