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Horton Working to Build on Rookie Season

By Jason Reid and Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, May 8, 2009

Safety Chris Horton was the standout of the Washington Redskins' 10-member 2008 draft class. While most in the group were ineffective as rookies, Horton, the team's final selection during the two-day draft process, quickly emerged as an effective member of the secondary.

But that was last season. Horton has worked hard to improve for the upcoming season, he said, concentrating on his technique. After a surprising start in the NFL, Horton wants to do more for the Redskins, who conducted their final organized team activity of the month yesterday at Redskins Park.

"It's just a little bit more pressure," Horton said. "I feel I got a fair opportunity to go out there and try to do a lot of stuff, and I'm just going to continue to work hard. I know a little bit more than I knew last year. On the field is easy. That's the easy part. It's what you do off the field in the classroom."

Horton performed well on the field shortly after arriving at the complex as a rookie, coaches said. The seventh-round pick (No. 249 overall) from UCLA finished third on the team with 76 tackles, including 57 unassisted, and led the Redskins with three interceptions. Horton's fast start last season improved his standing on the team, "but I always feel I'm going to have to prove myself everyday," he said. "I'm just that kind of guy.

"Once you start letting yourself get too comfortable, your game starts to slip a little. At the same time, coming in and making those plays early, it kind of gave me confidence and really reassured myself that, 'Hey, this is easy. This really is what I've been doing for a long time. There's no difference.' "

Horton is expected to compete with Reed Doughty, who appears to have recovered well from back surgery last season, for a first-string assignment. "We're out here making each other work," said Horton, the NFC defensive rookie of the month for September. "We're not going to let each other shortchange one another. It's just one of those things. We've got a lot of respect for each other. It's just a group of guys out there fighting."

-- ZORN PRAISES CAMPBELL: Coach Jim Zorn praised the work of starting quarterback Jason Campbell and expressed satisfaction with the progress shown this week.

"We kind of slowed things down, and then we worked on technique, coming in and out of breaks, how to get your weight over your body, just real fundamental things instead of just running a bunch of plays," Zorn said. "I think the thing that we did have this year over the last year was the majority of the guys knew what to do both offensively, defensively and special teams. We're further ahead."

On the heels of a tumultuous offseason for Campbell in which the Redskins looked to trade for Jay Cutler, then sought to move up in the draft to select former Southern Cal quarterback Mark Sanchez, Zorn applauded Campbell's performance in the sessions.

"I really liked the position that Jason's getting himself in," Zorn said. "He's making much better decisions because he kind of knows the offense now. He's not just learning the offense. And then we're putting him through the paces of working on his release, getting those releases efficient, as quick as we can get that ball out he's getting it out. And he was very accurate this week. Pretty impressive with some of the things he did. With ball speed and accuracy, you can't put a premium on that. And he was good." . . .

The Redskins' next round of offseason practices are scheduled for June 1-4 and June 8-11. . . .

Wide receiver Devin Thomas, who tweaked his right hamstring a bit on the first day of minicamp last Friday, reported on his blog the hamstring is now "100 percent." . . .

The team announced it has signed wide receiver Keith Eloi and released punter Zac Atterberry.

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