A day after his scintillating NFL debut helped the Rams to a 20-17 victory over San Diego, wide receiver Danario Alexander reported some discomfort in his left knee Monday.
No need to panic, though, coach Steve Spagnuolo emphasized.
"He was a little bit sore in his knee, but he got through (the game) OK," Spagnuolo said. "Any time you have that kind of trauma to the knee and the surgeries that he's had ... I give him a lot of credit for battling back."
Alexander, the record-setting former Mizzou standout, has undergone four operations on the knee. The last one was in February, to repair cartilage damage, and delayed his ascension to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.
That move came last Tuesday. On Sunday, Alexander caught four passes for a team-high 72 yards, including a diving, 38-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Sam Bradford, against the NFL's second-ranked defense.
"There was always a concern there," Spagnuolo said. "And when I use the word 'concern,' I just mean from the standpoint of health and the standpoint of a big jump — the last time he played in a game was in college to playing in a regular-season professional football game. So, very, very happy for him."
Spagnuolo also had a pointed message for Alexander.
" 'It's one game. You made a couple of big catches. Big deal,'" Spagnuolo said. "I mean, he's got to keep it in perspective. In this league, we've seen guys have great games one week, and then etc., etc. ... (But) I hope we're talking about him some more."
Alexander also saw action on special teams, almost by necessity. "You've only got so many bodies there on Sundays, so guys have got to pick up the slack," Spagnuolo said.
Plus, special-teams coach Tom McMahon had been lobbying for Alexander. Spagnuolo said McMahon "has been excited about Danario for months now. So I not only had to deal with Danario screaming at me to get (in the lineup), but Coach McMahon too. ...
"(Alexander has) accepted that role. We need that out of everybody."
Still, Spagnuolo stressed that the Rams would be mindful of Alexander's health. "This is the first time he's done the real deal in a long time," Spagnuolo said. "We'll make sure we tread lightly and be smart about it."
Shutting the door
The Chargers arrived at the Edward Jones Dome with the No. 1 offense in the league. They'd been particularly potent on first down, averaging 7.2 yards per snap.
So first down was a point of emphasis for the defense. "I made it a focus on Friday morning. I fed the team the stat," Spagnuolo said. "I think it was because they're a pretty explosive offense. They'd had a lot of big plays on first down."
In the first quarter, when the Rams built a 10-0 lead, the Chargers mustered just 5 yards on eight first-down snaps. At the half, which ended with the Rams up 17-3, San Diego had boosted its average, but only to 3.4 yards per first down.
Cornerback Justin King and safety Darian Stewart aggravated hamstring injuries Sunday and probably will miss this week's game at Tampa Bay. "They're just not coming around," Spagnuolo said. "Those things just linger. You can't get rid of them unless you rest them, and it's hard to rest them during the season."
Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, fullback Brit Miller and cornerback Jerome Murphy have less-serious hamstring issues and could practice Wednesday, Spagnuolo reported.
An MRI exam of cornerback Ron Bartell's left wrist was negative, but he also has a bruised thigh.
Linebacker Chris Chamberlain could return this week. He's been out with a turf toe injury since the season opener.