NFL Wire News

Things looking up for reinstated Panthers DE Alexander


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander has not had a very good 24th year. Among his personal issues: His mom was battling breast cancer, and his dad had open-heart surgery.

While trying to cope, Alexander twice violated the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, which triggered a pair of suspensions that cost him the first 14 games of the season.

When Alexander turns 25 on Wednesday, his biggest present will be getting to practice for the first time since August.

“It’s a learning process and an eye-opening process. It’s just been some long 14 weeks,” Alexander said Monday, shortly after he was reinstated. “I stayed prayed up. I got back in the church. Every Sunday I was in church. That was a big help. I just tried to stay focused, keep my eyes on the prize. I knew this day eventually would come.”

After a year full of downs, it appears things are going Alexander’s way again. His mom found out she was cancer-free in October, and his dad is doing well.

What he may be able to contribute to the Panthers this season is a bit murky. Returning to practice is a good first step; but, while he has been working out, that is different than being in game shape.

The Panthers have a one-week exemption that allows them to watch Alexander practice before they decide whether they want to activate him. If they do, the third-year player could be a nice late-season addition to the defensive-end rotation.

“I wasn’t accountable to my teammates. So I want to apologize to them, myself, my family, the organization and all of that,” Alexander said. “They could have easily said, ‘OK, we’re done with Frank.’ I just thank them guys for allowing me to be in meetings, come up here and work out and do what I’ve got to do.

“Without them and the support of my family, the people who (were) there with me, I couldn’t have done it. I just felt I let a lot of them down and I want to get on the right track.”

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