ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Lorenzo Alexander has quite a collection of white bottles, labeled with words straight from a biochemistry class. Beta Alanine Supreme. Carnitine Synergy. Uber C. Some 19 containers, big and small, in his Washington Redskins locker.
“I have a lot of supplements,” he said.
The consummate self-made NFL player, Alexander has always been conscious about his diet. Like many players, he also gets advice on the right mix of tablets to maximize his endurance and energy output. Or, as he puts it, “to help balance your body out.”
This year, it’s been more of a challenge to find that balance. Alexander, who once was a 300-pound lineman, arrived at training camp weighing 245, having dropped some 30 pounds from this time last season so that he can hold his own in his new role as the team’s primary backup at inside linebacker.
“Being 265,” he said, “is not ideal for covering tight ends and fast wide receivers down the middle of the field.”
No one would expect anything different from the player who arrived as a practice squad nobody in 2006 and soon became an indispensable utility man, working his way up to his current role as a team captain who now gets annual support from his teammates as an ought-to-be Pro Bowl player.
“I’d say he’s one of, if not the biggest influence I’ve had since I’ve been here,” said linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, a first-round draft pick last year. “He seems to me what really embodies a professional. Not just a professional athlete, but a professional human being. He shows you what hard work can do.”
Alexander was a novelty his rookie season, a three-way player who saw game action on the offensive line, defensive line and special teams. He made his name with hard work, smarts and big special teams hits.
In 2010, the Redskins moved him to outside linebacker. Last year, he started learning the inside linebacker position. This year, it’s his main focus on the only experienced alternative to starters London Fletcher and Perry Riley in the 3-4 scheme.
Alexander’s weight loss has been noticeable during training camp. He broke up a pass over the middle to Santana Moss during Wednesday’s practice, the type of play he couldn’t have made when he was a lot heavier.
But he also admits there’s a bit of a trade-off. Those big hits on special teams — the ones that had him mentioned as a Pro Bowl contender last year — won’t be as bone-jarring as they used to be.
“The object is to get the guy on the ground,” Alexander said. “Obviously I’m not going to be able to do some of the same things I did when I was 30 pounds heavier, but I can still get down there and make some tackles. And that’s all that matters, right?”