ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) -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 Monday, 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 Thursday's exhibition finale against Buffalo.
Neither player was in danger of being released - the Lions opened camp with only five safeties on the roster - but Alexander got most of the snaps with the starting unit Tuesday.
The last of Detroit's three second-round picks in April's 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.
``It creates an opportunity for me and Idrees to play a lot,'' he said Tuesday. ``I just have to approach it as if I'm the starter and I have to be ready to play every time out.''
Alexander spent the offseason and early weeks of camp absorbing the nuances of defensive coordinator Joe Barry's scheme, but said shifting his focus to a chance at a starting job wasn't difficult.
``I was competing with myself and just focusing on what my job was,'' he said. ``With me having a chance to start, I know I've been preparing myself for it, so the transition was pretty smooth.''
Bashir, signed as a free agent before last season, was released from the injured reserve list before the season after suffering a hand injury. The Lions re-signed him on Jan. 2.
He was a special-teams player at Carolina in 2005 and last started at safety for Jacksonville the previous season. The six-year veteran's best season was his first, when he started 15 games at free safety in Indianapolis and had a career-best 90 tackles and an interception.

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