- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 1, 2009

By now, Reed Doughty was supposed to be the established starter at strong safety. Kareem Moore was supposed to be the top threat to his job.

But injuries and the stunning rise of Chris Horton from seventh-round draft choice to one of the Washington Redskins’ biggest playmakers on defense have made Doughty and Moore afterthoughts as the Redskins prepare for the 2009 season.

“I feel like it’s Chris’ spot to lose,” Doughty said Friday morning.

Horton naturally agreed with that, but safeties coach Steve Jackson felt otherwise.

“I feel like we have two starters,” he said. “Reed’s a savvy veteran now. He’s started a playoff game. He’s played under the pressure of replacing [Sean Taylor]. He’s a tough guy.”

So tough that he never complained even though his back was never right last year after he hurt it in March.

“I didn’t feel good from the get-go,” said Doughty, who went on injured reserve in October and missed the last 12 games. “I could never train as hard as I wanted to, never push it as hard as I wanted to. … It’s tough to know that an opportunity slipped away for me. But I would honestly rather be healthy and second-string than do what I did for four games and start.

“There’s a lot of rotation time where they can use Kareem or me. We have different skill sets. I know where I’m supposed to be. I know offenses. I’m quick. I’m good in zones. I can cover, which some people don’t feel is my strength. I can fill on the run and blitz.”

And then there are special teams, where Doughty, 26, made the roster as a sixth-round pick in 2006. He became a starter in November 2007 after Taylor suffered an injury; Taylor was killed in an attempted robbery at his home later that month.

“Special teams are going to be a huge part of this,” Doughty said. “I’m ready to take over some leadership along with Rock [Cartwright] and Mike [Sellers] and some of those other guys and get that group right.”

Although Doughty is heading into his fourth season, he has started just nine games - one fewer than Horton and 23 fewer than free safety LaRon Landry, Washington’s top choice in the 2007 draft. Moore, a sixth-rounder in 2008, barely played until December after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in January and April. He sat out 10 days when the knee swelled during training camp and then strained a hamstring in the preseason finale.

Jackson said missing that time would have been hard for a veteran, let alone a rookie.

“My knee bothered me until about midway through the season,” said Moore, who turns 25 this month. “Playing in December built my morale a little bit because the coaches had the confidence to put me out there. I felt like I could come back with a little swag about myself, go out there and make plays.

“I’m way ahead of where I was last year, when I was just watching film and getting mental reps. My knee’s 100 percent, so I gotta go out and just play.”

Cramping their style

Dominique Dorsey, the Canadian Football League’s top special teams player in 2008, remained sidelined Friday morning after cramping up Thursday afternoon.

Sixth-round draft pick Robert Henson was writhing in pain just before the end of Friday morning’s practice with what seemed to be a severe injury to his left leg. But the rookie middle linebacker just had cramps.

Rookie free agent receiver Keith Eloi also cramped up after the session and had to be carried from the cool tub, but he was feeling better later in the day.

Ex-players observe

A day after Super Bowl XVII-winning quarterback Joe Theismann and record-setting return man Brian Mitchell watched practice, former linebacker Eddie Mason was on hand Friday morning.

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