KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs rookie linebacker D.J. Alexander received the news during a team meeting Wednesday morning.
“Coach (Andy) Reid just said my name and kind of threw me off guard because he never really says my name and he said that and I was shocked,” Alexander said.
What caused the surprise?
Alexander was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in the season finale, the NFL announced.
The 6-2, 233-pound Alexander blocked a punt in the end zone, which resulted in a safety, early in the third quarter in the Chiefs’ 23-17 season finale win against the Oakland Raiders.
“To get that honor is a real privilege,” he said.
Alexander, a fifth-round pick out of Oregon State in the 2015 NFL Draft, was a special teams stalwart in his rookie campaign.
He led the Chiefs in special teams tackles with 11 during the regular season and ranked third in special teams snaps with 344 behind safety Daniel Sorensen (363) and linebacker Frank Zombo (361).
“He’s really gotten better and better as the year went on,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “These last seven weeks now, he’s really been playing at above average level. Really had a good game last week, obviously, the block was huge.”
Alexander is is the second Chiefs player to be recognized as the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in 2015. Punter Dustin Colquitt previously received the award for his performance in Week 12.
“The thing about him, he’s just scratching the surface,” Toub said of Alexander. “He’s going to be even better. He’s got a lot more ways to improve his blocking, he’s really going to be a good special teams player down the road.”
Alexander joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Johnson (Week 2, 1989) and Tracy Simien (Week 14, 1991) as the only rookie linebackers in Chiefs history to win a Player of the Week Award.
Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.