As far as indoctrinations go, D.J. Alexander certainly didn’t waste much time before jumping into the fray in his first-ever Pro Bowl.
After logging all of 48 defensive snaps this season, he carried a substantial defensive workload Sunday and finished the game with six tackles, the third-most of any player on the AFC squad.
Alexander, a second-year pro for the Chiefs, was chosen to the team this week as a special-teams replacement for New England’s Matthew Slater, who is playing in the Super Bowl.
“Man it means a lot to be able on the same field as these guys,” said Alexander, a fifth-round pick in 2015. “Being in the Pro Bowl after not getting invited to the combine — and a lot of people doubting you, saying he’s injury-prone or undersized — being able to fight through it shows that if you keep working, anything can be accomplished.”
Sunday’s performance aside, Alexander knows he still has work to do to become a reliable down-to-down inside linebacker. He earned the start in place of injured star Derrick Johnson against Tennessee, but was tentative at times and was attacked repeatedly.
Alexander, who was unsatisfied with his performance afterward, was replaced by undrafted rookie Terrance Mitchell the rest of the season, but he now looks at is as a learning experience.
“Being a linebacker, a lot of it instinctive,” Alexander said. “I talk to D.J. a lot and he says it comes down to instinct.”
That’s why any defensive reps he gets on the inside — even in the Pro Bowl — matters to him. Every rep is a chance to hone his instincts as he continues to learn how to harness his impressive quickness and athleticism.
“I did a lot of thinking and guessing (against Tennessee) and that hurts you,” Alexander said. “I’ve got to be able to see it and go.”
With that said, don’t expect him to be satisfied with his first Pro Bowl appearance, either. He wants to come back one day as a defensive player.
“I’m just happy that I proved the naysayers wrong, and by any means I’m not stopping,” Alexander said. “I want more.”