Redskins safeties Reed Doughty, Chris Horton have been through a lot together

The Washington Post's Mike Wise and Rick Maese talk about the Redskins' preseason game against the N.Y. Jets on Friday.
Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 27, 2010; 12:05 AM

On the morning of Sept. 14, 2008, Reed Doughty found himself in the emergency room, a troubling enough development even if he weren't scheduled to play an NFL game that afternoon. Doughty had spent much of the night throwing up, and it was clear he wasn't going to be able to start at safety for the Washington Redskins against the New Orleans Saints. So he sent a text message to his likely replacement, a seventh-round draft choice out of UCLA named Chris Horton.

"Be ready," it said. "You're going to get your chance."

That day, in his second NFL game, Horton twice intercepted Drew Brees passes - both on tipped balls - and recovered a fumble in what was, at the time, a key Redskins' victory.

"Man," Horton said this week. "That seems like a loooooong time ago."

Two years later, the futures of Doughty and Horton are still intertwined. The latest chapter begins Friday night, when the Redskins play a preseason game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J. Doughty is scheduled to start at free safety. Horton will most likely relieve him. Either could end up the starter in the season opener, Sept. 12 against Dallas. And both are in that position because the presumed starter, third-year player Kareem Moore, is out at least a month following knee surgery.

"It's our turn," Horton said. "We have to be ready. That's our job."

Friday, the Redskins will face the Jets with a backup at quarterback (Rex Grossman for six-time Pro Bowler Donovan McNabb, out with a sprained ankle); a backup at fullback (Darrel Young for Pro Bowler Mike Sellers, out with a sprained knee); and a backup at free safety (Doughty for Moore).

"Somebody goes down," Coach Mike Shanahan said, "and somebody comes in."

Such is life in the NFL. On the Redskins, no two players know that better than Horton and Doughty. Since that day when Doughty got sick and Horton jumped in, Horton has started 14 games for Washington, Doughty nine. Each has a long history of stepping in because of injury or, in Doughty's case, tragedy.

It was Doughty, the year before Horton became a pro, who played in place of Sean Taylor when Taylor was killed during a break-in of his Miami-area home. It was Horton, then a rookie, who got the bulk of the playing time in 2008, when Doughty went down with a debilitating back condition that he thought might cost him his career. It was Doughty who took over when Horton suffered a season-ending toe injury last year.

Through it all, as they compete against each other for playing time, they often walk off the practice field together, chatting.

"Chris and I have really similar personalities," Doughty said. "We really try to be coachable, maybe sometimes to a fault. We've got to, sometimes, free up and be a little bit more of a playmaker. But with it all, we really try to help each other out. We're friends off the field. Really, I think it's as good a working relationship as you can have."

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