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Tuesday, December 28, 2010
NFC West High Energy Player of the Week

By Mike Sando

NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 16:

Danario Alexander had 11 receptions, one knee surgery and a diminishing role in the St. Louis Rams' offense heading into Week 16.

Danario Alexander
Danario Alexander had a breakout game against the 49ers, catching six passes for 99 yards.
The rookie hadn't caught a pass in two games.

Alexander's unexpected re-emergence Sunday proved pivotal for the Rams in a 25-17 victory over the 49ers at the Edward Jones Dome. Alexander caught six passes for 99 yards. He caught passes for gains of 2, 17 and 46 yards on consecutive plays as the Rams drove toward the touchdown that gave them a 22-14 lead with 9:36 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The 46-yarder was initially ruled to be a 49-yard touchdown, but Alexander stepped on the sideline during a strange sequence. Cornerback Shawntae Spencer walked away from Alexander under the mistaken assumption Alexander had been ruled down. Officials hadn't blown the whistle, however, and no one had touched down Alexander, so the receiver popped up and headed for the end zone. Replays showed his foot touching the sideline.

"It was an awesome catch by Danario," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "We were trying to get the ball to [Danny] Amendola on that play. Their safety hung in the middle a little bit, and I think they were actually both open, but I looked down and saw Danario just running away from his guy and he made a great catch and then made a heads-up play by getting up and getting into the end zone."

Alexander has undergone five surgeries on his left knee, including the procedure in late October to repair a torn meniscus. The knee troubles helped explain why the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Alexander went undrafted out of Missouri. The Rams found a spot for him on their 53-man roster only after Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton suffered season-ending injuries.

Alexander caught a 38-yard scoring pass in his first NFL game, helping the Rams beat San Diego in Week 6. Knee soreness after that game affected Alexander against Tampa Bay the next week. He underwent surgery and missed three games, plus a bye week. The Rams are 4-0 this season when Alexander catches more than one pass (he had one catch for 6 yards in a loss to the Bucs).