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After enduring the at times overwhelming grind of his first full NFL training camp and the heated competition for jobs at his position, receiver Danario Alexander is truly grateful to be a Ram again.
“It’s a big relief,” Alexander said. “This is my job and this is what I love to do. I love playing for the Rams. For the coaches to let me be on this team, it’s a great honor for me.”
Alexander was one of seven wideouts to survive the final round of cuts the Rams made over the weekend and tie up his spot on the 53-man roster. The battle for Alexander was and probably always will be a bit more difficult than it was for his six colleagues in the receiver corps.
After enduring five operations on his left knee in his career, Alexander had yet to go through the pounding it can take in the long, hot days of summer training camp.
The Rams signed Alexander as an undrafted free agent last year and stashed him on the practice squad early in the season as he recovered from his fourth knee operation. That kept him from participating in camp in 2010.
This year, though, with a full offseason to train and prepare (albeit on his own), Alexander entered camp more confident in his knee than ever. What he didn’t know was how it would react upon practicing in his first training camp and the three-plus hour practices that go with it.
“It was a pretty big task,” Alexander said. “I wasn’t used to coming out here with the pounding every day on my knee. But the knee made it through it, it’s truly a blessing.”
Because of the sheer amount of procedures he’s had done on the knee, Alexander knew that he’d deal with regular swelling and fluid in the knee. At one point during camp, the soreness got bad enough that he had another MRI on the knee.
But after the results showed that he could continue playing without a sixth operation, Alexander returned to the practice field the next day. All told, he only missed about three days of practice the whole time, less than most of the other wideouts on the roster.
“I am always treating it and stuff like that, staying on top of it,” Alexander said. “I am never just forgetting about it. I am always staying on top of it.”
Upon the start of practice for the regular season opener, Alexander finds relief in the lessened on field work load that comes with those practices.
“I am able to manage my knee throughout the year,” Alexander said. “Practice is a whole lot easier than what camp is so it’s a good thing for me.”
Now, Alexander can focus on how he can help the Rams on the field and not worry about where he stands on the depth chart. At 6’5, 217 pounds, Alexander brings an element of size and speed that no other wideout possesses.
Based on his ability to fight for his spot, he’s got the heart to match.
“I am a fighter,” Alexander said. “A lot of guys would have taken a lot more days off than what I did. For me to go out there with a sore knee for several days and still fight through it, it shows what kind of heart I’ve got.”
The hometown favorite from his days at Mizzou, Alexander is looking forward to getting back on the field in a meaningful game against the Eagles on Sunday. He’s also looking forward to seeing one of his old pals and former Tigers teammates, Jeremy Maclin.
Before Maclin became a star at Mizzou, Alexander had actually beaten him out for the starting job. Then, Alexander suffered a knee injury on the same turf he now calls home at the Edward Jones Dome. The duo is now close friends and Maclin is starring for the Eagles.
It should make for a fun Mizzou reunion for fans and alumni at the Edward Jones Dome.
“That’s going to be a good deal,” Alexander said. “St. Louis, for him this is home and for both of us to come from Mizzou we’ll have a nice fan base in the stands. I look forward to it.”