Balky knees betray talented WR Alexander

SAN DIEGO -- Danario Alexander was the best receiver at training camp, according to teammates and reporters covering the San Diego Chargers last August.

However, Alexander’s body betrayed him once again, as he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee, ending a promising 2013 season during training camp before it got started.

And it appears issues with the same knee could force him to miss the beginning of the 2014 training camp. According to a report by Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, Alexander had a second surgery on his right knee, pushing back the time table for his return.

Alexander, 25, will be an unrestricted free agent in March. The Chargers could use a receiver with his ability to stretch the field, but the team can’t be assured that Alexander can return to the field healthy.

Unfortunately, that’s been the norm for the talented Alexander, who has endured seven knee surgeries, beginning at the University of Missouri and extending to his NFL career. Alexander was once considered more talented than Philadelphia first-round selection Jeremy Maclin at Missouri.

In 2009, Alexander showed that potential, finishing with 113 catches for 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Tigers. But he suffered an injury to his left knee at the Senior Bowl, requiring a fourth surgery on his left knee, and went undrafted.

The St. Louis Rams signed Alexander during training camp as a developmental prospect in 2010, and he played there for two seasons, finishing with 46 catches for 737 yards and three touchdowns. However, the Rams cut Alexander during training camp in 2012 with an injury settlement due to a lingering hamstring injury.

In need of receiver help, the Chargers signed Alexander midway through the 2012 season, and he had his best results as a pro, finishing with 37 catches for 658 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games. Alexander re-signed with the Chargers in April 2013, but never made it out to the field.

That makes the latest news about Alexander’s knee injury more troubling. At 6-5 and 217 pounds, Alexander has the skill set to develop into a No. 1 receiver. He’s fast enough to run by a defensive back, but quick enough in and out of breaks to run polished routes and create separation on intermediate routes.

Alexander has reliable hands, and the ability to create big plays after the catch. But balky knees have robbed him of the chance to show off his spectacular skill set on a consistent basis at the NFL level.