Reed Doughty finds himself with the opportunity of a lifetime. It came when a beloved teammate lost his life. How do the Redskins play without SEAN TAYLOR?

By Mike Wise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 2, 2007

Reed Doughty has no idea how to replace a teammate who died in the middle of the season. How to feel. What to think. Or even how to go about his game-day duties today amid the mourning and sorrow for Sean Taylor at FedEx Field.

"There's not really any choices," the starting free safety of the Washington Redskins said. "This is my job."

Doughty walked off the team's practice field in Ashburn last week still reeling from the news that Taylor, shot during a targeted attempt to burglarize his Florida home early Monday morning, had died early Tuesday. Now the Redskins must face the Buffalo Bills a day before Taylor's funeral in Miami, which the whole team will attend.

He and his teammates are mourning, but only Doughty must deal with an awkward opportunity -- to start in place of a player who was killed less than a week ago.

"An injury is one thing," Doughty said. "And I look at that as an opportunity, you know, to step up. Somebody losing their life is, obviously, a different experience. It's one of those things where I'm playing for him right now."

In two short years with the Redskins, Doughty has gone from being very fortunate to have a job in the NFL -- he was a sixth-round draft pick from Northern Colorado a year ago -- to the last line of defense for an NFC team in a virtual scavenger hunt for a playoff berth.

His 16-month-old son, Micah, is battling chronic kidney failure. A large portion of Doughty's $80,000 signing bonus has gone toward medical bills, and Micah still needs as many as seven medications a day.

"He's still not growing well," Doughty said. "Developmentally, he's doing fine. But we've got to look for a kidney transplant in the offseason. The thing you have to remember about renal kidney failure is, getting a transplant isn't something that will fix him. He may need two or three transplants over his lifetime. He'll be on medicine every day of his life."

Doughty's wife, Katie, has health insurance but his securing a job this season with the Redskins "has definitely been helpful, just feeling comfortable knowing we can handle those bills if they come," Doughty said.

Today, though, he has more on his mind than just his son's health and he admits there is no game plan for dealing with on-field grief.

"I'll never be able to replace Sean as a person or as a player," Doughty said. "I'm only going out there and do my best with the abilities I've been given. I'm going to try to honor Sean through that play and really honor God through that play because I know that's what Sean wants. He would tell me to do my best and lay it all out on the field. And that's all I can do."

Making matters more difficult, Doughty must replace a star. Taylor was a Pro Bowl player who many observers felt was a taller, faster version of Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company