DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins slams Danario Alexander #84 of the St. Louis Rams to the ground at the Edward Jones Dome on October 2, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Redskins beat the Rams 17-10. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
So much for Danario Alexander's snap count. Against the Redskins last week, Alexander played a total of 48 offensive snaps and did some special teams work. That was the second-highest snap total among Rams' receivers, after Mike Sims-Walker who played 64 snaps, according to the snap report from Pro Football Focus. People who wanted to see more playing time for Alexander are getting their wish.
Alexander was inactive for the Rams' season opener. In week two against the Giants, however, he had a big game with three catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. Following that game, head coach Steve Spagnuolo acknowledged that DX would see more playing time, but he also noted the conundrum in doing that with a player that has had five surgeries on the same knee.
More playing time, however, would be carefully monitored and measured out, according to the coach. To play, Alexander has to practice. Practicing would increase the workload on his knee, and he might never be available for more than 25-30 snaps per game.
With Alexander taking 48 snaps last week along with special teams work, that snap count appears to be out the window. Alexander's knee must be feeling pretty good.
Why is Alexander playing more than Gibson? I'd say it has more to do with his role as a deep threat. Gibson and Mike Sims-Walker are similar players, and both have struggled to find themselves open in recent weeks. Alexander, a big, tall long-strider, brings a different matchup against defensive backs down the field. And the desperate Rams are taking more downfield shots, which isn't totally out of desperation, but scheme design as well.
Drops are less egregious with Alexander than they have been for some of the other receivers. According to Stats, Inc., he has just one drop in three games. Drops, however, are one of those innately subjective stats, and we've all noticed a few more catchable balls throw his way.
The problem with Alexander is his 34.8 percent catch rate. Targeted 23 times so far, he has just eight receptions. He was targeted eight times in each of the last two games, and caught two and three passes, respectively. Last year, he had a 54 percent catch rate on 37 targets.
Oddly enough, Alexander seems to have the most trouble with passes between 0-9 yards. According to the data from Pro Football Focus, he's caught two of eight in the 0-9 yards range, with two drops.
Improved pass protection will help DX to some extent. Increased reps, be it practice or games, will help as well, but the risk will always be there for a player with balky knee.