Notebook: Donnell Alexander hopes to follow in father’s footsteps

May 9, 2016; Kansas City, MO; Running back Donnell Alexander, the son of the late Derrick Thomas, addresses reporters on the final day of Chiefs rookie minicamp. Alexander attended camp on a tryout basis.
May 9, 2016; Kansas City, MO; Running back Donnell Alexander, the son of the late Derrick Thomas, addresses reporters on the final day of Chiefs rookie minicamp. Alexander attended camp on a tryout basis.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – From Bobby Bell to Emmitt Thomas, the Chiefs have their share of legendary players and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees.

The late outside linebacker Derrick Thomas, however, arguably stands alone in Chiefs’ lore. Thomas, whose life was tragically cut short in 2000, totaled 126 ½ sacks on his career en route to the Hall of Fame.

Now one of his sons, running back Donnell Alexander, hopes to pave a path to the NFL after participating on a tryout basis in the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp.

“It’s a surreal experience,” Alexander said Monday. “Like I said, no matter what, I think I would have come here regardless – at least tried out – because this is where I would love to be, a Chief.”

The 5-10, 206-pound Alexander played collegiately at Akron in 2015 after transferring from Colorado State, where he played two seasons (2012-13).

While he is trying to establish himself as a running back, the 23-year-old Alexander is fully aware of what his father meant to Chiefs fans and to the NFL.

“When I was in Colorado, I did a camp and I had a lot of people come up and speak to me,” Alexander said. “And just the way that they said they idolized my father, to me, that was amazing because they have no idea, really, who he is. But for them to be a die-hard fan, I like that, that’s showing me a lot.”

The native of Kansas City, Mo., also pays honor to his hometown roots, going so far as to have a tattoo of the Chiefs’ arrowhead on the back of his neck.

“I’ve had this for quite a while,” Alexander said. “Like I said, I take pride in being from Kansas City.”

Meanwhile, Alexander faces a stiff challenge to make the Chiefs’ roster as a tryout player despite finishing his college career between Akron and Colorado State with 1,509 yards rushing and nine touchdowns on 294 carries.

The Chiefs are currently loaded at running back with Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, Knile Davis and Darrin Reaves, leaving little room for additions.

Regardless what happens, Alexander was happy the Chiefs gave him an opportunity.

“Being able to even put this uniform on, to me, is a surreal experience and I appreciate it,” he said.


Rookie minicamp concluded Monday without two players on the practice field: Linebacker Terrance Smith (flu) and defensive lineman Desmond “Tank” Jackson (undisclosed).

Smith signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent out of Florida State, while Jackson, who played collegiately at Texas, attended minicamp on a tryout basis.

Guard Parker Ehinger and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson were on the practice field Monday after suffering cramps Sunday.


• The three rookie cornerbacks selected in the draft saw plenty of action Monday. Eric Murray, the team’s second of three fourth-round picks, saw time at safety, while third-round pick KeiVarae Russell lined up at right cornerback and sixth-round pick D.J. White lined up at left cornerback.

• Interceptions came in bunches during 7-on-9 goal line drills. Cornerback Shak Randolph, an undrafted free agent out of Southern Methodist, came up with an impressive pick in traffic on a pass thrown down the middle of the field. Fresno State cornerback Shannon Edwards, who attended camp on a tryout basis, totaled two interceptions in the end zone.

• He may not have intercepted the pass, but cornerback KeiVarae Russell arguable made the defensive play of the day. Russell shadowed a wide receiver off the line of scrimmage and broke up a pass in the end zone by diving and extending his left hand to knock the ball away. Russell immediately jumped up after making the play, waving his arms emphatically across his body to signal incomplete, and then let out a loud, “Wooo!”

• Fourth-round pick Parker Ehinger lined up at left guard for a third straight day.


Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for The Topeka Capital-Journal and Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.