But somehow Doughty always finds himself thrust into a larger role.
This year, the competition features Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo, a pair of athletic ballhawks who ranked among college football’s leaders in interceptions the past two seasons. The Redskins also hope 2013 brings the healthy return of two-time Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather, who missed most of last season because of knee injuries.
But Doughty remains undaunted. His goal: Make it impossible again for the Redskins’ decision makers to leave him off the 53-man roster.
“Obviously, there’s young guys coming in that are very talented,” Doughty said. “But the one thing I’ve really tried to do is not focus on them because the truth is, if they come in and play lights-out and do what they’re supposed to do, then they’re going to play ahead of me. I know that. But at the same time, I’m going to make them earn it. I’m going to come out here and work on my craft the best that I can and be the most dependable player that I can possibly be and make plays.”
Safety has long represented a revolving door for the Redskins. Not since Sean Taylor and Ryan Clark in 2005 has the team had stability at that spot.
Adam Archuleta failed miserably as an upgrade over Clark in 2006. In 2007, Washington drafted LaRon Landry, expecting he and Taylor to give it a formidable tandem. But Taylor got hurt in Week 10 and was murdered two weeks later. Doughty filled in as starter the rest of the year.
Landry, Kareem Moore, Chris Horton and Oshiomogho Atogwe saw their short-lived Redskins tenures derailed by injuries, and Doughty always got the call in a pinch.
Nothing changed last season. Meriweather (a free agent addition) and rookie Jordan Bernstine missed nearly the entire season with knee injuries. Free agent Tanard Jackson was suspended for failed drug tests and never took the field. Another pickup, Madieu Williams, struggled. Free agent Jordan Pugh and 2011 draft pick DeJon Gomes were situational players.
Doughty, who has lined up alongside 23 fellow safeties since he arrived in Washington from Division I-AA Northern Colorado, wound up starting another 10 games and recording 69 tackles and an interception in 2012.
“Well, every year Reed starts for us, so you can’t discount Reed,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said of Doughty, who in the past four seasons has averaged 9.25 starts and 85.25 tackles. “I think Reed brings something to a football team. One, he’s a really good special teams player. He’s really intelligent. He understands the game. He studies the game. He’s really good around the box. He makes a lot of tackles. He’s good in the run game. I think everybody has some form of deficiency in the NFL. What Reed brings to your football team is invaluable.”