ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The NFL's leader in sacks through the first five weeks of the regular season isn't a first-round pick, a household name or the proud owner of a $100 million contract.
Lorenzo Alexander, whose seven sacks are more than Von Miller or anyone else has totaled, is none of that. Alexander, 33, was an undrafted free agent who spent 10 years as mostly a special-teams ace for the Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders until he defied age, took advantage of an opportunity for increased playing time and became an every-down player for the Buffalo Bills this season.
"Just look at the tape," teammate Brandon Spikes said in the locker room Thursday. "Looks like he is just Benjamin Button-ing it a little bit, honestly. Reversing that age. Father Time sometimes catches up with you, but not him."
Alexander discovered the fountain of youth after signing a one-year, $885,000 free-agent contact with the Bills in April. Playing more than 65 percent of both defensive and special-teams snaps, the veteran has transformed himself into a valuable asset in Rex Ryan's retooled defensive scheme opposite top pass-rusher Jerry Hughes, who continues to draw considerable attention from blockers.
The NFC's special-teams representative in the Pro Bowl following the 2011 season, Alexander was given an opportunity to start at outside linebacker early this season for the Bills once first-round pick Shaq Lawson elected to undergo shoulder surgery in May that will keep him out until next week, and after former starter Manny Lawson was a surprise cut at the end of the preseason.
Now leading the NFL in sacks entering Week 6, Alexander can make the Pro Bowl as more than just a special teamer, according to Ryan.
"I guess the big question right now is, 'Is he going to start in the Pro Bowl?'" Ryan said Monday. "Because that is how he is playing. I think he will. I think he will definitely be a [special] teams starter and he very well may be at outside linebacker as well."
From the time Alexander made his regular-season debut with the Redskins in 2007 until his final game with the Raiders last season, he totaled nine sacks. Over the past five weeks with the Bills, he already has tallied seven sacks -- including three in Sunday's 30-19 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Informed after the game that he was now the NFL's leader in that category, Alexander responded in disbelief, "Oh, really?"
"It's not like I'm counting them and trying to keep pace with anybody," he added Wednesday. "I'm just out there having fun, playing hard. It's cool. It's kind of surreal because I've had nine my whole career, and now I have seven in five games. So it's cool. I got some of my friends from around the league congratulating me."
His secret? Pilates. Alexander and former Redskins teammate Kedric Golston and their wives operated a Pilates studio in Virginia for several years until it closed in July, and Alexander credits the exercise technique as one reason for extending his career into his mid-30s.
"Growing up as a kid, I was taught that bigger was better, but if you're not efficient in the way you move, it doesn't really matter how strong you are," he said Wednesday. "So Pilates really allowed me to connect my core so when I go out and play, I'm functioning strong. I'm probably just as strong as probably when I was [younger]. Just because my powerhouse and core is being functional."
Utilizing everything from Pilates to a faithful routine of stretching, acupuncture, massages and contrast hydrotherapy, Alexander's dedication to maintaining his body has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.
"He's just a creature of habit," Spikes said. "A vet like that, there's some stuff he prides himself in, and that's his body. He started off as a special-teams guy and now he's a starter in the NFL and leading the NFL in sacks. As the season goes, it just seems like he's getting better."