Arizona Cardinals linebacker Lorenzo Alexander will play in his 100th NFL game on Sunday.
Under normal circumstances, this may just be a fairly forgettable milestone, but not when a player is playing against the team where he earned 92 of those appearances.
The Cardinals are set to face off against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, and Alexander was a guest for Doug & Wolf Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM to give some insight into his plan when he matches up against some ex-teammates.
“Obviously it’s another game, but at the same time I played with a lot of those guys for up to seven years, so it’s more like brothers. So it’ll be more like beating up on your brother,” said Alexander. “You want to go out and dominate them and try to get that W.”
With that familial rivalry sometimes comes a little extra effort on the hard hits, and Alexander is prepared to look out for those crushing blows, as well as deliver some himself.
“If it’s between the lines, it’s clean and I’m going to take a shot. They are going to do the same thing to me,” said Alexander. “I know they are going to be gunning for me, because I was the guy on special teams when I was there, so they are going to try to make a point.”
The Cardinals defense added more names to their long list of injuries in Week 5, after defensive end Calais Campbell went down with an MCL sprain and linebacker Matt Shaughnessy was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.
The Cardinals will again have to start players who were previously getting limited playing time, but Alexander does not see this a problem for Arizona.
“We don’t have any nervousness with the guys we have on this team, they are here for a reason,” said Alexander. “Obviously Calais Campbell and [Darnell] Dockett and certain guys bring a certain talent level, but there’s still the same expectation as far as getting out there, playing with that certain tenacity, getting after people and just rallying to the ball as a group.”
The Cardinals defensive statistics are down some from last season, with the team ranking 31st in the league allowing 302.5 passing yards per game.
With so many injuries to the unit, the team may seem mismatched in some areas and could drive a coach to take more risks and get creative with the gameplan. Arizona’s defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is sticking to the gameplan, and according to Alexander, is treating things like nothing has changed on defense.
“I think he’s just using his same principles,” said Alexander. “It’s not like we have eight and they have 11, so the 11 men we put out there, we are going to run what we do, what Todd [Bowles] loves to do with those guys’ skill set and go and get after them.”
The Redskins are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and have fallen to 1-4 after losing to the Seattle Seahawks 27-17 on Monday night. This losing streak may not be on the offense, with Washington averaging 393.6 yards of total offense per game. Well over the league average of 356.2.
Alexander said the team’s first player to stop is running back Alfred Morris, who ranks sixth in the league with 345 rushing yards this season.
“If [Morris] is having a great game with that zone scheme that they have, that they’ve been running well, they’re going to be great,” said Alexander. “If we can contain him, have the offense score some points and kind of take him out of the game, obviously it’ll make it easier for us to kind of contain [wide receivers] DeSean [Jackson] and Pierre [Garcon] on the outside, who kind of like to take the top off of the defense.”
The slow start to the season may be a concern for Washington, but the top story for the team this week is how they are handling the losses. Alexander’s former team has drawn negative attention for reportedly being too upbeat after the game.
“I don’t know what the mood was. As long as they weren’t in there, playing music and stuff, I think it’s kind of blown out of proportion,” said Alexander.
When asked his own reaction to losses, Alexander acknowledged that players shouldn’t take it lightly, but the game in perspective.
“You don’t want to be cracking jokes in there, loud, playing music and stuff. But at the same time, it’s a game. I’m going to move on from it.”
The Cardinals and Redskins play Sunday at 1:25 p.m., and coverage will be on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.