By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 5, 2008
Starting safety Reed Doughty was excused from the Washington Redskins' final minicamp practice yesterday to be with his ailing son, Micah, who underwent a kidney transplant recently. Doughty left Redskins Park after being informed his son had a high temperature, and the Redskins do not know when he will return.
"The baby's not just sick, the baby's had surgery," Coach Jim Zorn said. "It's an issue for him and for us as a group. . . . Fortunately, we're not in a critical part of the season. Even if it was [during the season], he'd be with his family.
"I'm not going to say football is more important. Football is not more important than what's going on in his family, or in anybody's family, really, when it comes to your kids and their health."
Micah, 21 months, underwent transplant surgery in March, a team spokesman said. Micah was born nearly six weeks premature and had experienced chronic kidney failure, which required him to take a variety of medication and undergo dialysis each night at the Doughty's home. Before practice, Zorn addressed the team about Doughty's son "and just asked that if you're a praying man, then we need to pray for Reed and his family."
Teammates expressed concern for Doughty, who is considered one of the hardest workers on the team. "He's dealing with a whole lot right now," strong-side linebacker Marcus Washington said. "He's going through a tough time, and whenever one of your teammates has to deal with something like that, you feel for him. And when it's with your child, your baby, it's even tougher."
Said lineman Lorenzo Alexander, "He's a strong man."
Doughty, a sixth-round draft pick in 2006, has emerged as a key player for Washington while coping with his son's health issues. He moved into the starting lineup in Week 11 last season against the Dallas Cowboys in place of Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor, who was sidelined because of a sprained knee, and remained there after Taylor was killed during a break-in at his home in November.
"He played great" last season, cornerback Shawn Springs said. "He had an opportunity to replace Sean, and we all knew it was tough on him, and he came in and played great. He had a lot to handle and he did what he had to do for the team."
Doughty has reached heights that few would have expected from someone who was the 173rd overall selection, and what he has accomplished "is really impressive when you see everything his family has been through with the baby," Alexander said. "Now, with [Micah] having that kidney transplant and this fever, that's what is really serious about it.
"The way he dealt with that all last year, and did what he did for the team, you definitely learned a lot about his character. I look to him for guidance a lot of times, too. I just got married, and just being able to talk to him and seeing how he's handled everything with his family, I've learned a lot from him."
In last weekend's draft, the Redskins, who had only three safeties on their roster, selected safety Kareem Moore of Nicholls State and safety Chris Horton of UCLA. With LaRon Landry considered a future star at the position after his rookie season, the Redskins' decision to draft two safeties was viewed as the team issuing a challenge to Doughty. But Doughty is on firm footing as a starter, Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, said recently.
Zorn said he planned to contact Doughty on Sunday night to offer his support. "I have four kids myself, and just the idea [of] when your son or daughter are sick, just sick, it worries you," Zorn said. "In his case, they've got to be very careful with what's going on."