Ex-Missouri star Alexander likely to play for Rams

Friday, October 15, 2010 | 4:55 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — Danario Alexander anticipates making his NFL debut with the St. Louis Rams on Sunday after getting plenty of snaps with the first string during the practice week.

The former Missouri star wide receiver was elevated from the practice squad this week to replace Mark Clayton, who was placed on injured reserve with a torn patella tendon in his right knee.

"I've been practicing like I'm going to be up, that's all I can do," Alexander said Friday. "Sunday can't come any quicker."

Alexander has persevered through four operations on his left knee and still wears a brace decorated with Missouri Tiger emblems. On Friday he's close to 100 percent, and added that the knee feels better than during his prolific senior season at Missouri when he caught 113 passes, led the nation with 1,781 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.

"I never really got completely healthy, even in '09. My quad was not the same," Alexander said. "My brace is there for comfort, I'm always keeping it near and dear."

If Alexander plays Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, he'll be skipping steps like preseason experience out of necessity. But coach Steve Spagnuolo said team trainers and physicians were comfortable Alexander's knee was sufficiently healed.

"Danario's done a nice job, he's been hungry for this for a while," Spagnuolo said. "We'll see where we're at on Sunday, who we have up, who we have down. But he's had enough work that if he had to play, I think the coaches feel comfortable he can go in there and know what he's doing."

The Rams (2-3) expect two tight ends coming off injuries also to be ready on Sunday. Rookie Mike Hoomanawanui has missed four games with a high left ankle sprain and Billy Bajema has missed three games with an MCL tear to his right knee.

Hoomanawanui said he's ready two weeks ahead of schedule after shaking off mid-week soreness.

"It was a little sore yesterday so I was excited to get back out there," said Hoomanawanui, referred to as "Illinois Mike" by Spagnuolo. "And it was great."

Bajema will wear a brace and will have the knee heavily taped.

"It's like having another brace," he said. "I'll take all the protection I can get."

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