Pinkel expresses concern for Alexander, other injured MU grads in NFL

08/07/2013 2:25 PM

08/07/2013 2:25 PM

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he reached out to former MU star Danario Alexander, who tore the ACL in his right knee Tuesday and is expected to miss the entire season for the San Diego Chargers.

Alexander, 24, has had multiple knee surgeries on his other knee. Another former MU receiving star, Jeremy Maclin, suffered a season-ending knee injury during camp with the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago, while another former MU star - Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon - recently had surgery to repair an open dislocation to one of his fingers.

“It just broke my heart when I heard it,” Pinkel said of Alexander. “You’ve got J-Mac and Spoon yesterday with his hand…. anytime that happens to your guys and with J-Mac involved too, it’s difficult stuff.

Pinkel said he texted Alexander right away when he heard the news.

“Danario has been through so much with his surgeries and I understand it’s his other knee,” Pinkel said. “The good news about him is he’ll rebound mentally and he’ll be back next year 100 percent, I guarantee you, because he’s been there before.”

Alexander, who is listed at 6 feet 5 and 217 pounds, caught 37 passes for 658 yards and seven touchdowns for the Chargers last season, all career highs.

His history of knee injuries – he has had five surgeries dating back to his time at Missouri – caused him to go undrafted in 2010, despite a senior season in which he caught 113 passes for 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns and was named an All-American.

Alexander eventually latched on with the St. Louis Rams, for whom he caught a total 46 passes for 737 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons before he was released last August. The Chargers signed him in October, and he proceeded to post his career-best totals in only 10 games.

News and notes from Wednesday’s practice

*Pinkel said freshman tight end Jason Reese, who is currently fourth on the depth chart but one of only three scholarship tight ends on the entire roster, is making an impression.

“Jason, when we recruited him I think he was 215,” Pinkel said. “He’s 242 right now. He looks like he’s 220. He’s a really, really athletic guy with great size potential.”

*Pinkel said running back Henry Josey, who suffered a horrific knee injury in November of 2011, looks back to normal.

“He looks like the same old Henry,” Pinkel said. “His confidence is there, he’s running hard, got that great quickness, change of direction. So he looks really good.”

*Prior to camp, Pinkel made a big deal about his decision to cut back on the physicality of practices this August. He made the move in an effort to prevent injuries, and unlike last season, the Tigers haven’t had anyone go down with a significant injury at this point.

“Our injuries are down a little bit, but…things happen,” Pinkel said. “That’s a little bit of luck…I think overall, our players like it, we’re getting a lot done, we’re having great practices. It will have no effect on our preparation at all.”

*Pinkel explained the reasoning behind the staff’s recent decision to move freshman Charles Harris, a Lincoln Prep graduate, from linebacker to defensive end.

“Yeah, we moved him back just because of his weight gain,” Pinkel said of Harris, who is listed at 6 feet 3 and 235 pounds. “I think he’s gained 20 pounds since he’s been here in a two-month period of time. We’re just looking down the road.

“He has great movement, he could probably play an inside linebacker spot,” Pinkel continued. “But he’s 242 now…so with that sudden burst of weight, let’s get him to a spot where he can stay and start working him out so he can be better. The good thing about him is that he has a great attitude and is athletically talented.”

Injury report

Senior receiver Marcus Lucas wore a red non-contact jersey for the first time Wednesday due to a hamstring injury.

“It’s just a strain,” said Pinkel, who added that trainer Rex Sharp held Lucas out. “He wanted to practice.”

Sophomore receiver Wes Leftwich, who has a strained hamstring, and freshman cornerback John Gibson, who has a sprained ankle, wore non-contact jerseys, too. Freshman defensive tackle A.J. Logan, who was recovering from meniscus surgery on his knee, shed his non-contact jersey for the first time all camp.



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