BY STEVE KORTE - News-Democrat


ST. LOUIS -- Every day is a balancing act for the St. Louis Rams with second-year wide receiver Danario Alexander, who must weigh how much they'd like him to practice and play with how much work his left knee actually will handle.

"I think you need to do right by your players, too,'' Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I don't want to wear somebody out and all of a sudden not have them be able to do anything three weeks from now. It's not that easy, but I'll tell you again, I go back to Danario who I give a lot of credit to.

"He fights through all of this. He wants to go. He's a competitor, and we like that about him."

Alexander's left knee has undergone five surgeries. He said he gets some sort of treatment for the knee every day, even if it's just doing exercises to build up his quad muscle to take some of the strain off his knee.

"Yeah, but I don't think that bothers him,'' Spagnuolo said of the time that Alexander spends in the training room. "He's accepted that part of it. There's a lot of guys in this league that have something.

"Everybody probably has something that they're managing, especially when you get to the middle of the season."

After being inactive in the Rams' season opener, Alexander had three catches for 122 yards and a touchdown last week in a 28-16 road loss to the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.

"It felt great,'' Alexander said. "It's probably one of the biggest stages you can play on -- Monday night in New York. That's a big deal, and I was happy to be able to make plays.''

Alexander said his knee felt fine after game, and he is hoping to play an even bigger role this week against the Baltimore Ravens.

"I have had knee problems,'' Alexander said. "I've been managing it throughout the week and (trying) to take care of my body. I feel like I can play most snaps, and I think I am doing that this week.''

Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels confirmed that Alexander will see more snaps this Sunday.

"Danario had a great game the other night and he's had a good week of practice,'' McDaniels said. "He's earned the right to be out there more. We're excited about what he can do and we're looking forward to that on Sunday."

Alexander caught 107 passes for 1,644 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2009 for Missouri Tigers, but he went undrafted the following spring after injuring his knee at the Senior Bowl.

His first season with the Rams was interrupted by his fifth knee operation.

"I do have cartilage left," Alexander said. "It's not really grinding, but I do have to manage it."

Spagnuolo would like to see Alexander handling a full work load on the practice field if he's going to handle a full work load in games.

"The one thing we have to remember about Danario, when you commit to putting a guy out there, if you were to commit to putting a guy out there for a lot of plays, or all the plays, that means you've got to do that in practice,'' Spagnuolo said.

The 6-foot-5-inch, 215-pound Alexander provides the Rams with a deep threat with size.

"He's a big-play guy,'' Spagnuolo said. "Big, tall receiver and I think Sam (Bradford) likes throwing to him. He's done some productive things and we'll get him in there more and more. We all know what he's battling. I keep going back to that because it's different.

"But he's out there, I watch him all day. It's amazing what he does from a physical standpoint with the injury he has."

Alexander also feels like he's developing a good relationship with Bradford, even though the two will be at odds this week when Missouri plays Oklahoma, Bradford's alma mater, in Norman, Okla.

"We haven't been talking any smack,'' Alexander said. "I heard the spread is like 21 points. I feel like we can go out there and come out with an upset. We just have to play mistake-free football.

"I'm just pulling for my Tigers. I'm always a Tiger, and that's who I am going to go with.''

Notes

Running backs Steven Jackson (quad) and Cadillac Williams (hamstring) took some limited reps in practice Friday. They're both listed as questionable for the Ravens. ... Wide receiver Danny Amendola (elbow) was doubtful after not participating in practice all week.