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Redskins safeties Reed Doughty, Chris Horton have been through a lot together
The back line of the Redskins' defense will change this season because LaRon Landry, who started each of the past two seasons at free safety, has been moved back to strong safety, his more natural position. Moore, a sixth-round draft choice in 2008 - the same year Horton was selected in the seventh - had been hidden behind Landry at free safety for his entire career, but had used this off-season and training camp to impress Shanahan and Jim Haslett, the Redskins' new defensive coordinator. But Moore's injury - suffered when the Baltimore Ravens ran a fake punt in last week's preseason victory over Washington - changes all that.
"It's really too bad," Horton said. "But we both have experience, and this is our job. We know how to do this, how to be ready."
Horton came into camp as the backup to Landry at strong safety, with Doughty the backup to Moore at free safety. Since Moore's injury, though, the coaching staff has said that the two will battle each other for the start alongside Landry in the first game against Dallas. Whoever ends up as the starter will be almost a completely different player than he was that day two years ago, when Doughty got sick.
"That is one of my best games, to this day, still," Horton said. "I just remember waking up real nervous, didn't know what to do. I had this look in my eye like, 'Gosh, it's gonna be a long one.' . . . I had mental errors. I blew some coverages. But there's one thing I did, man, and I'm trying to get back to that status. That's just run to the ball and fly around."
Since that game against New Orleans, Horton has just one interception and one fumble recovery. His approach, though, is different.
"Night and day," said safeties coach Steve Jackson. "He was just a raw, young kid. Now, he's a professional. He knows how to anticipate what's coming. He plays to make plays, not just to not get beat." Now, though, Horton is coming off the toe injury that cost him the final eight games of 2009.
Doughty, too, had to grow after injury. His back problems got so bad in 2008 that he couldn't walk around the mall without losing the feeling in his legs.
"It didn't just affect football," Doughty said. "It affected my emotional well-being. It was very discouraging."
After more than a year of rehab, Doughty came back in 2009 and had his best season, three times posting double digits in tackles before missing the final game of the year with a sprained ankle. Friday night, he will assume a starting position again. Horton will be there, too, pushing. However this latest competition works out, each said he'll be happy.
"If he's starting the game, I want him to finish," Doughty said. "I want him to succeed, because when I'm in that position, I want to play the whole game, too. You don't want to be like, 'Oh, I hope Coach pulls him and I get in there'."