CHARLOTTE – Frank Alexander lived out a dream in his first NFL season.
The Panthers' defensive end, a Louisiana native, did something he's always wanted to do – claim a victory in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"Growing up, I used to always dream about playing in that dome," Alexander said. "I never got there in high school (for the state championship). We were a game away."
In the season finale at New Orleans, Alexander started in place of Greg Hardy and the Panthers won 44-38.
"A dream – playing in that stadium and getting a 'W'. It felt good," Alexander said. "I can go home and talk a little."
He'll have a lot to talk about.
The fourth round draft choice from Oklahoma played in all 16 games, finishing with 25 tackles, 2.5 sacks, four passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. He ranked third on the team with 18 quarterback pressures.
"It was a good season, getting that first one under my belt," Alexander said. "I got a feel for the flow of the game, the speed of the game. I feel like I did well this season, but there are certain areas I could have done better in, things I have to go work on in the offseason."
Alexander has laid out several areas for improvement.
"Just more power, more strength, more flexibility and just learning the whole game, being mentally ready to go through this long season," Alexander said. "I'm just focused on getting better."
Watching fellow-defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, who combined for 23.5 sacks, certainly bettered Alexander as he adjusted to the professional level.
"(Charles and Greg) are just relentless, those guys keep coming," Alexander said. "They helped me out a whole lot. I took a lot from them."
It wasn't just Johnson and Hardy who Alexander relied on for help and guidance. Alexander said he felt comfortable with everyone in the locker room, and that's something he wasn't sure he could expect when he left college.
"I wasn't sure at all," Alexander said. "I had a lot of teammates from Oklahoma that went on to the pros that told me, 'Man, you're really on your own. It's not like college anymore.'"
That wasn't the case for Alexander in Carolina.
"I can say the Carolina Panthers aren't like that. It kind of feels like college all over again, because we're so close," he said. "Everybody talks to everybody. We're tight."
And that makes Alexander even more anxious to start his second season.
"I'm ready to get back."