With the offseason loss of linebacker Karlos Dansby, the inside linebacker position has become a little thin for the Arizona Cardinals. With his departure to the Cleveland Browns in free agency,. the team is left with Pro Bowler Daryl Washington, 2013 second round draft pick Kevin Minter and a pair of former underafted young players -- Kenny Demens and Jojo Dickson.
While the team is ready for Minter to step up and be a very good player, there is little in the way of veteran leadership at the position and the team is likely looking at a suspension for Washington, as a result of his legal troubles. History says that eight games is likely. Additionally, there just isn't much competition behind Minter and Washington.
Not long ago, it was speculated that Arizona could have interest in Larry Foote, who would have not only provided a well-respected veteran presence, it would give good competition for Minter, as Foote was still a very productive player in 2013.
Rather than look outside the organization, they have decided to love Alexander. He has played all over the field -- having played outside and inside linebacker, on the defensive line and even on the offensive line, while he was a member of the Washington Redskins.
The team was very high on Alexander last offseason, signing him to a three-year contract. He is a special teams standout.
The move makes sense. The team has a need inside, plus, his impact outside was going to be limited. Starters John Abraham and Matt Shaughnessy both return, and Sam Acho and Alex Okafor also return from injuries. It is also not out of the realm for the team to draft another player and bring in more for camp.
He played only three games last season, when he suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury to his foot.
He is still not fully recovered and his injury was a concern for head coach Bruce Arians, but he is back on track and is eyeing a return in mid-June, hopefully in time for OTAs. He says that even if he can't fully participate in OTAs, he will do what he can. He said the most important time to be ready is training camp in late July.
That actually will work out for the Cardinals. If Alexander is out during OTAs and mini-camp, that will give more reps to Minter, who played only one defensive snap all season. While the coaching staff is very high on him, his lack of experience could be an issue and the more reps he can get, the better.
It is a smart move to keep a valuable veteran on the team and contributing, especially considering his salary. He has a cap hit of nearly $1.5 million -- not what you want for a player buried on the depth chart.
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