He got the nickname after his blocked field goal forced overtime in the Week 6 win over Arizona. Stevie Johnson dubbed Alex Carrington, 'Megahand' after the defensive lineman got his big mitt on a potential game-winning kick for the Cardinals with two seconds left in the game. He's had another blocked field goal since that victory (at Houston), but the defensive tackle has had a much bigger hand in the defense's resurgence in the second half of the season. And his effort this past Sunday served as indication that in his third NFL season with the Bills his play is spiking.
Carrington had four tackles, a sack and a half, a pair of tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and a batted pass in the win over Jacksonville this past Sunday.
"It was his most productive game for sure," said head coach Chan Gailey. "It was good to have him actively involved—getting tackles for losses, batting passes, sacks and all of that kind of stuff. That is good. The more good players we can have in there, the better our rotation is and the better it makes us on defense."
"I've just got to do what I've got to do when my number is called," said Carrington of his most recent outing. "It was my best performance since I've been here. I'm just trying to step up and do what I have to do."
A year ago fans were wondering if Carrington was going to be a contributor at all. Two years after the team made him a third-round pick the defensive lineman was suddenly lining up at outside linebacker in Buffalo's 3-4 defensive scheme. He looked like a fish out of water. He eventually was moved back to defensive end. That combined with the lockout kept Carrington from making the jump in performance that a lot of higher draft choices make from year one to year two.
"My year two was slowed down by the lockout," Carrington told Buffalobills.com. "I gained weight and beefed up to play in the 3-4, but then I got moved outside. I was actually having a really good camp, then I got moved and moved back again. It slowed me down. Moving around it affected my confidence because I wasn't sure of my role. I wouldn't necessarily mess up, but I would just do my job and make just a few plays. I was not living up to my potential."
Carrington's teammates could see it too.
"As a young guy he came in and just focused on doing his job and got kind of robotic with it," said Kyle Williams.
At the close of the 2011 season Carrington did some introspection.
"I did a lot of thinking this offseason about it and then in OTAs (defensive line coach) Giff (Smith) came to me and just gave me the green light and just said, 'Alex just go,'" he said. "That helped out a lot just with coach having confidence in me. It was a pick me up and kind of sparked me. I just took it and ran with it."
Moved inside to defensive tackle in Buffalo's new 4-3 scheme, Carrington quickly settled in and performed so admirably in camp and the preseason that the club released veteran Dwan Edwards to get the third-year defensive lineman more time on the field.
Carrington and Spencer Johnson have been the primary rotational defensive tackles, stepping in for Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams when they need a break. Big stat lines aren't always common for defensive tackles, but for Buffalo's 'get up the field' scheme they have a chance to make plays if they put the time and effort.
"There are two or three things that happen with guys like him," said Gailey. "The confidence they get from having played, the knowledge they gain from having played and the strength they gain from being here and being able to work full-time offseason, in-season on strength. It is just amazing. So you see jumps like that from time to time from guys if they are willing to work at it. He is willing to work at it."
The third-year DT credits his veteran defensive line teammates for expanding his knowledge of the game, which has enabled him to play more off his natural instincts this season.
"This year I just feel different. I feel like a different player. I'm more confident and that might be the biggest thing," said Carrington. "I've got great guys around me. I've learned a lot since I've been here. Night and day compared to two years ago."
"I think he's progressed," said Williams. "I think the main thing with him is he's playing a little freer and looser and playing faster. This year even from the beginning of the year until now, he's done a good job for us playing both run and pass well. He rotates in and he's a guy that's not just a fill in guy. He goes in and does some good things in there."
"Consistency is something I've been working on," said Carrington. "Now I'm more confident and I think knowing my stuff, knowing my film study has allowed me to play a lot faster.
"I'm sticking to my word. When my number is called I'm going to step up. They're can't be any slack. There can't be any let off."