In the absence of Greg Hardy last year, the Panthers were hoping to get some production from defensive end Frank Alexander.
But after a pair of suspensions for marijuana cost him four and 10 games, they admitted they didn’t know if they were ever getting anything from the former fourth-rounder.
But Alexander is trying to work his way back into their good graces, primarily by giving up marijuana, saying he hasn’t smoked in 11 months.
“I didn’t do it before I went to work. I didn’t do it at work. It was simply like after I got out of practice, I wanted to kind of relax and chill. It kind of healed my body up,” Alexander told Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “It wasn’t like a thing I was doing all the time. I didn’t need it to get up and go.”
Many players, frankly, share Alexander’s view, and see a certain hypocrisy in the league’s drug policy given the amount of pain killers and other medications made available to them. But the policy is the policy until it changes, and Alexander said he’s given it up (after testing positive four times), so he doesn’t waste his chance to play in the NFL.
“There’s still more out there for me to do. That’s why I was disappointed last year that I couldn’t go out there and play,” Alexander said. “I know I can do a whole lot better than what I’ve been doing. It’s just a mindset thing, confidence and believing in yourself.”
Alexander spent 16 days in a rehab facility last summer, and now spends his nights after work playing video games. He said the support he’s gotten from the Panthers was valuable as well, though he knows he doesn’t have chances to spare now.
“They kept it real with me about the consequences if I make another mistake. But all in all, they were real supportive,” Alexander said. “It’s kind of like what Mr. [Dave] Gettleman told me, ‘I’ve got a son your age. I know y’all can make some bonehead decisions.’
“Coach [Ron] Rivera was the same way. ‘We’re going to stick behind you.’”
Of course, there’s a pragmatic reason for that too, since the Panthers didn’t sign or draft a pass-rusher to replace Hardy this year. So they could use Alexander, but only if he’s eligible.