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Fitting In: Two Redskins Veterans Adapting to New Roles

How veterans Santana Moss and Lorenzo Alexander have adapted to new roles this season.

Larry French - Getty Images

In Mike Shanahan's three years in charge of the Washington Redskins the team has seen quite a bit of turnover. In fact just 10 of the 53 man roster (counting players on IR) were acquired before Mike Shanahan took over. Of those 10 players two have seen their roles change this season, as they try to continue to carve out a niche on this roster.Neither of these Redskins were expected to play significant roles at the beginning of the season, yet now each appear poised to have a big role going forward this year.

Santana Moss:

-Moss was considered to be on the way out after a disappointing and injury filled 2011 season. He carried a high cap charge and the Redskins were moving him exclusively to a slot role. With major free agent investments in Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, and 2nd year receiver, Leonard Hankerson, returning from injury, it didn't appear that Moss would play much of a role in this offense. Especially considering that tight end and franchise player Fred Davis would need to be featured prominently to justify his contract as well.

Moss though has adapted quite well to his new role in the slot, which has allowed him to use his quickness to exploit mismatches in the secondary. Moss leads the team with two touchdowns, and is tied for second with 16 catches, three plays over 20 yards and 10 of his receptions resulting in first downs. His 223 yards represent 15% of the team's receiving yards. Not bad for a guy who doesn't play every snap and was considered an afterthought coming into the year.

Going forward Moss could continue to see an expanded role, even as Pierre Garcon returns from his injury. Given how consistent Moss has been this year, it is hard to imagine the team would try featuring him less. Moss could also be considered a candidate to take over some of the option duties and plays that are called when Brandon Banks is on the field. Banks has not been any sort of consistent threat, and Moss's speed and quickness would be better utilized in that role (also he is far better in ball security).

Lorenzo Alexander:

-Alexander was once again expected to be a special teams standout for the Washington Redskins, as well as back-up in a variety of areas. Though thought of as a back-up he wasn't considered to be a primary back-up at any position, and in fact there was a thought that the team may need to keep 9 linebackers to cover up an deficiencies Alexander had. With the loss of Brian Orakpo, the Redskins pass rush has been reeling, until this past week when Alexander got a chance.

In limited work (this week almost solely rushing the passer), Alexander posted 1.5 sacks, a fumble recovery (that led to a crucial touchdown), and added a couple additional hurries. After just 20 pass rushes he is second on the team in sacks, and showed a level of penetration that neither Chris Wilson or Rob Jackson has come close to showing.

Moving forward the Redskins should continue to bring in Alexander in passing situations (especially if they can have him rush the quarterback). They should even consider utilizing him more from an inside linebacker spot, when he can blitz as well, giving the Redskins defense another more dangerous look.

How do you best think the Redskins should utilize Moss and Alexander going forward?

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