BALTIMORE | He attended the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation dinner Tuesday night as the Washington Redskins' 2008 winner. But Reed Doughty, who became an unrestricted free agent last month, isn't on any team's official roster.
That will change Wednesday. Doughty told The Washington Times he will sign a one-year deal with Washington, keeping the safety with the club that drafted him in 2006.
Doughty, who had been in negotiations with the Redskins and agent Dave Butz Jr. while also talking to "a couple of other teams," expects to battle second-year player Chris Horton for a starting job while resuming his role on special teams.
"It's not just the money," Doughty said. "It's about how much I'll get to play and what my role will be."
Doughty began the 2008 season in the starting lineup, but when he missed the Week 2 game against New Orleans with the flu, Horton stepped in. A seventh-round pick out of UCLA, Horton had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the Redskins' win, which earned him NFC defensive player of the week honors. Soon, Horton claimed the job for good, and Doughty's season headed south. He missed the final 12 games of 2008, going on injured reserve when a pinched nerve led to back surgery Oct. 31.
"At first, my back just hurt a little. Next, I had a burning sensation down my left leg, and then my foot was kinda numb," Doughty said. "I thought I could play with it and hoped it wouldn't get worse. [The Redskins' medical staff] thought I had sciatica, but when I tried to get back on the field, I just wasn't myself. I didn't want to hurt the team."
The Redskins decided not to offer him a contract last month, making him an unrestricted free agent.
"It felt like I missed a large opportunity," Doughty said. "I had played well at the end of 2007, but last year I wasn't the player I knew I could be."
Battling comes naturally to Doughty, a sixth-round NFL draft choice out of Northern Colorado who soared from spare part in 2006 to starter for the final six games of 2007 in place of the late Sean Taylor.
Doughty's change in status came while he endured the health issues of infant son Micah, who was born six weeks prematurely and underwent a kidney transplant within a few months.
Doughty's determination during his difficult year led to him receiving the honor - as voted on by Redskins players - at the annual banquet Tuesday. The award, named for the late, longtime Baltimore Colts trainer, goes to a player on each team who is a source of inspiration and courage for his teammates.
"I'm honored that the guys thought enough of me to vote me the Redskins' winner," Doughty said.
And with the offseason conditioning program starting next week at Redskin Park, Doughty will join them again as teammates. He began running three months after his back surgery and has started lifting weights. He said he's 100 percent and has received clearance to participate fully in the conditioning program.
Note - The Redskins re-signed linebacker Alfred Fincher. Signed off waivers from Detroit in July, Fincher claimed one of the final roster spots and played in Washington's final 15 games, mostly on special teams. For now, the 25-year-old will compete with H.B. Blades for the starting spot opened by Marcus Washington's release last month.