Lorenzo Alexander is one of the Bills' veteran leaders who also happens to be great with the media. That was fortunate Wednesday during an awkward interview at his locker in which he was asked about Rex Ryan planning to start rookie Shaq Lawson in his place on Sunday against the Steelers.
The news was first relayed Wednesday by the Bills' own website, which got an advance look at this week's edition of "The Rex Ryan Show." The show tapes on Tuesdays and airs on Saturdays.
"He’s going to play a lot more. He’s going to be our starter this week and he’s earned it," Ryan reportedly said of Lawson on the show.
Lawson has been rotating with Alexander – a leading Pro Bowl candidate – since returning from shoulder surgery, but Ryan didn't mention anything about a switch during his Monday or Wednesday press conference. He hadn't seemed to mention anything to Alexander, either.
Here was the exchange at Alexander's locker Wednesday.
Q: Lorenzo, what was the conversation like with Rex regarding Shaq starting this week?
A: "Uhhh, there was no conversation. It just happened to be, he had a great game and obviously he’s a first-rounder and a guy that has a lot of talent and you want to give him opportunity and he’s going to produce. But we rotate anyway. Whether it’s me and Jerry [Hughes], Shaq and Jerry, Jerry and me, we’re all going to get in the game and all going to have an impact."
Q: Do you take it personally that you're not starting?
A: "No, not at all. I didn’t know I wasn’t starting. I’m still going to be out there running around and stuff in certain packages. It’s not personal at all. It’s all about winning games and putting the best product out there."
On Thursday afternoon, Alexander said he still hadn't heard anything from Ryan about not starting. Lawson hasn't been in the locker room this week.
Ryan downplayed the situation Thursday, saying he views it as having three starters at outside linebacker.
"Well, what I said, basically what I mean is we'll go with three starters. So in other words, we're going to rotate all three of those guys and that way we keep them fresh," he said. "So with Shaq, Jerry, and 'Zo, now we're just going to have – I feel confident enough to where I can put him right in there with that group and we're going to rotate it like we have three starters. And that's an ideal situation for us."
Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman declined to add anything when asked about Ryan's comments from the team's website – "Then you gotta go with that," he said.
Guess we'll see what happens Sunday.
UPDATE: Shaq Lawson said Friday that Rex Ryan hasn't mentioned anything to him about starting.
"Nah, I ain't know nothing about starting," he said. "I saw it. That was news to me."
Lawson said he views his role with Hughes and Alexander as a three-man rotation. He learned about the article from Twitter.
"People were tagging me, tweeting me, like, 'Congratulations on starting.' I was like, y'all telling me something new, I didn't know. Because I don't really pay attention to it."