ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Gerald Alexander arrived at training camp hoping to find a niche as a backup safety with the Detroit Lions.
An injury to starter Daniel Bullocks suddenly has the rookie in the running for a starter's job.
The Lions placed Bullocks - a starter in seven games as a rookie last season - on injured reserve yesterday, two days after he tore a knee ligament during Detroit's 37-10 preseason loss at Indianapolis.
With Kenoy Kennedy firmly entrenched at strong safety, that leaves Alexander and veteran Idrees Bashir battling for the free safety spot.
"We like Gerald Alexander, and Bashir has been a starter in this league," coach Rod Marinelli said. "It's a chance to rotate some guys in there.
"These guys will get some work this week, and we'll play the younger guys a lot" in tomorrow's exhibition finale against Buffalo.
The last of Detroit's three second-round picks in the 2007 NFL draft, Alexander comes from an unbeaten Boise State team. A cornerback who switched to safety as a senior, he finished the season with 33 tackles and a fumble recovery. Bullocks' injury suddenly shifts him from a likely backup to a possible starter.
"I just have to approach it as if I'm the starter, and I have to be ready to play every time out," he said.