Desperation can sometimes lead to great things. In the case of the San Diego Chargers, the team picked up physically gifted but injury-plagued wide receiver Danario Alexander in mid-October last season when they desperately needed anyone to catch the football.
Alexander developed instant chemistry with Philip Rivers and finished the year as his top target. In 10 games, Alexander caught 37 passes for 658 yards and 7 touchdowns, making him one of the league’s hottest receivers in the second half of the season. All the more impressive, Alexander did so without having the luxury of working with Rivers in the offseason. He’s now getting that luxury this offseason, which can only help with his already solid rapport with him.
“Coming in before the season gives me more time to be with the team,” Alexander said. “The more time you have to be together, the better we get to know each other. So this is a great opportunity not just for me but for everybody to get on the same page. We’ll be better for it.”
Under new head coach Mike McCoy, the Chargers will be utilizing a more short and intermediate passing attack, different from Norv Turner’s preferred long ball. Alexander has the skills to be successful in both, but will need to make adjustments, as will everyone on the offense.
At 6-foot-5, 217 pounds, Alexander has all the physical tools to be successful and be a legitimate No. 1 receiver in this league. However, it’s his physical health that could hold him back from ever reaching that potential.
Despite his great season, the 24-year-old restricted free agent only received the lowest possible (original round) tender from the Bolts. Though he wouldn’t have cost any draft picks to sign, no other NFL teams made an offer to Alexander. This could be a sign of overwhelming skepticism around the league in a receiver who’s had five surgeries on his left knee. There will definitely be questions about whether or not Alexander’s knee will be able to hold up for 16 games, but he’ll be well worth a long-term contract if it does.
Alexander will need a productive – and healthy – year in 2013 to be in the Chargers’ future plans. With youngsters Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen waiting in the wings, the Chargers will have options next offseason at receiver and won’t need to overpay Alexander for his services even if he does perform well. Alexander should be highly motivated this season to prove his doubters wrong and get himself a long-term contract in 2014.