With all the buzz of training camp on and off the field, Donovan Alexander hasn’t had much time to show the new Bombers around his hometown.
Besides, it’d be difficult to do, given he doesn’t have a car.
"I take the bus," said the Winnipeg cornerback with a grin, chatting after the final practice of training camp on Thursday. "On game days, I’m going to have to leave very, very early."
Well, there you have it: Donovan Alexander, Manitoban and man of the people.
He has yet to be recognized on any of those Winnipeg Transit rides, and, truth be told, the seven-year CFL veteran and former St. Paul’s Crusader would be perfectly content to keep flying under the radar at home.
"I prefer it that way," he said. "If you’re a corner and people are seeing you a lot, then you might not be doing your job properly. They might be scoring touchdowns on you. If I have a quiet season and nobody knows who I am, I’d be very happy with that."
Less pleasing for Alexander is he was also forced to have a quiet training camp as well.
He suffered a muscle strain early in the month and returned just in time for the last practice before today’s final cuts. There wasn’t much he could have done to avoid that fate, he shrugged, it was just the standard pre-season sprain.
Still, it was frustrating.
"Coaches can’t evaluate you when you’re sitting on the sidelines," he said. "I’m just happy to be back on the field."
Now, Alexander is one of the players waiting to find out how he will slot into the Bombers’ plans.
When the squad signed him back in February, they were clearly hoping he would become a lynchpin Canadian starter.
The 29-year-old is, after all, just two seasons removed from his 2012 West Division all-star campaign, where he picked off four interceptions and laid out 48 tackles while playing safety with Edmonton.
More than that, Alexander also played two seasons in Saskatchewan under now-Bombers defensive co-ordinator Gary Etcheverry, rolling at corner under Etch’s free-wheeling defensive schemes. "If you want to survive in this league, you have to be comfortable at all positions," he said. "I really like the corner spot in coach Etch’s defence, because it requires a lot of vision. It’s a spot where you can make a lot of plays."
Sure enough, Alexander jumped right in the action on Thursday. Still, he’ll have to show that he can catch up. "He made a couple plays out there right away," head coach Mike O’Shea said. "I don’t think he’d be in the type of shape he needs to be. He’d probably like to practise more... But there’s been good competition there and he’s got to step back in there and earn a spot."
Meanwhile, on a sidenote: Alexander was wearing a No. 99 practice jersey on Thursday, a far cry from his usual No. 4.
No sudden Gretzky tribute here. It was just a prank the defensive corps pulled to mark the end of camp. The switcheroo played a little harmless havoc with watching media, especially when helmets made it harder to play guess-who.
"I think it was Bryant Turner’s idea," Alexander said. "Just have some fun, let’s switch some jerseys around," he said.