Lorenzo Alexander will “push for a large role on defense”

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Cardinals are heading into Phase Three of their offseason program, with OTAs (Organized Team Activities) scheduled to start on Tuesday morning.

Lorenzo Alexander came to the Cardinals in 2013, and as fate would have it, his first season was wiped out when he suffered a Lisfranc injury against the New Orleans Saints in Week 3.

Alexander couldn’t really workout in the 2014 offseason like he wanted to because of the injury, but he was still able to play in all 16 games and make a difference on defense and on special teams, which is Alexander’s forte.

This year is completely different. Alexander is as healthy as he’s been in a long time and he’s ready to get it pumping on Tuesday.

“Just asking the coaches, whether it’s (inside linebackers coach) Larry Foote, (defensive coordinator) James Bettcher, (special teams coordinator) Amos (Jones), anybody that saw me from last year to this year, just ask them how they see me moving and they say it’s not even a comparison,” Alexander said. “I definitely feel much more confident going into this year, to be able to push for a large role on defense and a more retro Lorenzo Alexander on special teams this year and compete with (cornerback Justin) Bethel for that Pro Bowl spot.”

“That’s what I’m looking forward to this year, and obviously going to the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl is the No. 1 goal,” Alexander said.

Arizona’s linebacking corps will be completely different this season. General manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians made a lot of additions in free agency (Sean Weatherspoon, Darryl Sharpton) and through the draft (Markus Golden, Shaq Riddick). That’s not to mention the five rookie free agent linebackers (Alani Fua, Edwin Jackson, Andrae Kirk, Gabe Martin, Zack Wagenmann) they signed.

As far as Golden and Riddick go, Alexander says they’re on “opposite ends” with what they can deliver for the team on defense.

“I think Shaq (Riddick) has the great measurables. He’s a little bit more raw because of his path to the NFL, so he’s definitely gonna be a great project for (defensive line coach) Buck (Brentson Buckner), and (Larry) Foote and (linebackers coach) Bob Sanders to work with and see him grow over the years,” Alexander said. “I think Markus (Golden), just because of where he came from, and the program he came out of (Missouri) is a little bit further along. (He) has some great athletic ability as far as rushing the passer. He’s definitely mature as well, just talking to him.”

With Larry Foote transitioning to the coaching ranks, Alexander is now the elder statesman among Arizona’s linebackers. Alexander will turn 32 in a few weeks, but don’t let that number fool you; his fire and desire for the game of football is just as strong as the young bucks who are beginning their careers.

“I think I’m more competitive than most people know,” Alexander said. “I’m always getting the old man jokes because I am the oldest linebacker in the room since (Larry) Foote is a coach now. I definitely like to go out there and show these young boys that I can get after it and run around just like they can too.”

On the opposite end of the age/experience spectrum, Sharpton and Weatherspoon have a combined 10 years of NFL experience. Alexander is confident in both men because they’ve been there, done that.

“Hopefully these guys can be that bridge, that gap, to teach these guys how to be a professional,” Alexander said. “Also those guys are gonna help us. Being around Sean (Weatherspoon), I really love him. He brings that energy. He almost replaces Dock (Darnell Dockett) in a sense, as far as being out there, talking loud, (talking) trash, getting everybody hyped up (and that) energy. I’ve really appreciated him and what he brings to the team, so it’s gonna be fun.”

Alexander hasn’t had much time to get to know Sharpton, since he’s only been with the team a few days. What Alexander’s heard about Sharpton from guys around the league has him intrigued to work with him.

“Great dude, can play some ball,” Alexander said. “But both guys really need to stay healthy. At the end of the day, that’s what makes you impactful in this league, if you can stay on the field and play at a high level, which I know both guys can play at a high level, we all just gotta stay healthy.”

Alexander himself stated that he’s nearing the end of his career, so his window for getting a world championship and a ring is closing pretty quickly, so he’s relishing every minute he has with his teammates, as that continues with OTAs.

“I’m excited,” Alexander said. “This time, people normally take it for granted, the offseason lifts, and working out and walking through stuff. It’s a good time to get to know your teammates. It’s not a lot of pressure; so you can talk things out, get that foundation, that trust as far as communication on the field.”

“All that stuff pays dividends down the road when you’re facing a great team in Seattle (Seahawks) for the (NFC) Championship Game,” Alexander said. “I know this guy, I know what he’s gonna bring, I trust him, I don’t have to worry about his job, I ain’t gonna try to do him, I’m gonna do mine. That’s when you go out there and win games.”

“Hopefully we can bring some of that, and be able to finish strong this year and take the (NFC) West,” Alexander said.

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