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Alexander's Coming On At Outside Linebacker

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Lorenzo Alexander earned the nickname "One Man Gang" in 2007 after he carved a niche for himself on offense, defense and special teams.

Three years later, Alexander would be happy to be known simply as an outside linebacker.

That's Alexander's new position -- and if things go according to plan, he could be a starter.

He has been alternating with Andre Carter at the position during training camp.

"I have come a long way," he said.

Alexander entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie defensive tackle with the Carolina Panthers in 2005. He joined the Redskins' practice squad the following year and earned a roster spot coming out of preseason in 2007.

That year, Alexander saw action at defensive tackle and special teams. Midseason, after a series of injuries along the offensive line, he was called on to play guard and tight end in goal-line situations.

He played mostly defensive line the last two years under Greg Blache, recording four sacks and a forced fumble in that span.

With the Redskins switching to a 3-4 this year under Jim Haslett, Alexander was asked to transition to outside linebacker.

Alexander has quickly discovered that the position plays to his strengths.

He was among the standout players on defense early in training camp.

"I'm a big guy, but I am very athletic and versatile," he said. "Playing special teams really helped me and I match up really well against opposing tight ends and tackles. I've played in space on special teams, too, so I'm comfortable at the position."

Instead of clogging the middle as a defensive tackle, Alexander can use his newfound speed – he has slimmed down to 275 pounds – to rush the passer.

"The 3-4 is designed for outside linebackers to make a lot of plays," he said. "You have a lot of big guys in the middle stuffing everything up, and it's our job to collapse the quarterback, come back and make plays on the running backs."

The only challenge for Alexander is to make sure that he listens for coverage changes before and after the snap.

"I pretty much have to listen through the whole down," he said.

Haslett is confident that Alexander can make the transition.

He should know. He was a linebacker in the NFL for eight seasons from 1979-86.

"[Alexander] has been awesome," Haslett said. "He's a better athlete that I would have ever guessed. He's an ideal size for the position and he has good rush ability. He's smart and tough as nails."

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