- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Last July, Reed Doughty had the same routine: Mow the outfields, rake the infields and do other maintenance for eight hours at the Butch Baker Baseball Complex in Greeley, Colo., followed by three hours of football-related workouts.

“I know the big-time schools get money for summer school, but not us,” Doughty said of himself and his teammates at Northern Colorado. “We had to work.”

This July, Doughty’s routine is far different, the benefit of being a paid athlete for the first time. Long days of manual labor have been replaced by long days of running, lifting and studying.

This year has been all about change for Doughty, the Washington Redskins’ sixth-round draft pick.

During the immediate two months following the draft, Doughty spent much of his time in Northern Virginia, living in a furnished apartment, dining at the Dulles Town Center food court, hitching rides to practice from fellow rookies and experiencing a cell phone relationship with his wife, Katie.

Doughty has ground through two months of practice and classroom sessions in an effort to be up to speed when the Redskins start training camp Monday.

Off the field, Doughty’s plate also is loaded. Selecting the right financial planner to handle his $84,000 signing bonus, and if he makes the team, his $303,000 base salary. … Finding an affordable place to live. … Buying a car. … And, biggest of all, preparing for October, when his wife will have the couple’s first child.

But if sport and exercise science was his major at Northern Colorado, multitasking was his minor.

Starting today and throughout his rookie season, Doughty, 23, will periodically share his thoughts about the transition from the Great West Conference to the NFC East with The Washington Times

“It’s exciting, nervous — all of the normal things that a rookie probably goes through,” Doughty said earlier this week.

Doughty led Division I-AA with 159 tackles last year but knows his statistics and signing bonus mean nothing come next week. A strong August on defense and special teams will be required if he’s to be in uniform Sept. 11 against the Minnesota Vikings, the Redskins’ opening night opponent.

So far, Doughty has impressed coaches with his smarts and special teams play.

“When he first got here, his head was swimming because he overanalyzes everything,” assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said. “He’s bright and extremely prideful and can’t stand making a mistake. But he’s made great strides and when he gets to training camp, he has to slow his heartbeat down. Once he gets the pads on, he’s going to be even better to look at.”

• • •

Doughty is believed to be the first professional athlete to come from Johnstown, Colo., located 45 miles from Denver.

“Pretty much an agricultural town,” said Doughty, the son of a teacher and nurse.

Doughty was recruited by Colorado State as a walk-on so he opted for a partial scholarship at Northern Colorado, located in Greeley. He was a dominating player, recording 466 career tackles and 14 interceptions. But can that translate to the NFL?

“That’s the age-old question,” Redskins safeties coach Steve Jackson said. “What we look at is, if he’s a good player, those are the types of numbers he should have against inferior competition. If he’s better than everybody, that’s what he should do.”

Doughty’s break came during the pre-draft process when he was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Only the best of the non-Division I players get the chance to work out for and meet with coaches and executives from all 32 NFL teams.

“I knew if I could get invited, I would be on the radar,” he said. “If I didn’t get invited, I knew my chances of getting drafted were much less. I don’t think I blew teams away but I did pretty well with my opportunity.”

The Redskins were one of several teams that met with Doughty. But he wasn’t invited to Redskin Park for a pre-draft workout.

Doughty entered draft weekend with a realistic attitude — a Day One phone call wasn’t going to happen. The nerves surfaced early on Day Two. His agent, Dave Butz, son of the former Redskins lineman, told Doughty he could be drafted in the fifth round or not at all.

When the Redskins called, Williams and coach Joe Gibbs talked to Doughty, who had difficulty hearing when his family and friends saw his name on television and started celebrating.

Doughty became the 11th Northern Colorado player drafted since 1938 and will be one of only six Northern Colorado alums on NFL rosters when training camps open next week.

• • •

Days after the draft, Doughty traveled to Northern Virginia and participated in a three-day camp for draft picks and rookie free agents. The Redskins coaches threw the gauntlet at the new guys.

“I didn’t have the right mind-set,” Doughty said. “I thought I was competing against those guys and it had nothing to do with that. I realize that now, I can’t concern myself with what the other safeties are doing.”

Doughty spent most of May and June in the Washington area but did have a Memorial Day weekend getaway in Florida with Katie. When Doughty returns for training camp, his wife will stay in Colorado until their baby is born in October. They’ve been married for four years.

“We dated in high school and didn’t feel like there was a reason to wait around and I don’t regret a second of it,” Doughty said. “The fact that I’m going to be a father is exciting. It’s hard not knowing if I’ll be there for the delivery.”

Before fatherhood comes the task of learning the Redskins defense and making an impression on the practice field. Doughty agreed with Williams’ opinion that things began to slow down slightly during minicamp.

“Mentally, things were slowing down and I was being more assertive with my calls,” he said three days after minicamp. “Physically, I have a long ways to go. I’m still over-running plays and trying too hard.”

Working in Doughty’s favor is that he played all four special teams at Northern Colorado and worked on all four with the Redskins during the offseason. Reserve linebackers and safeties separate themselves with solid special teams play during the preseason.

“He’ll have to be a big-time contributor and we’ll see what he can handle in the games,” special teams coach Danny Smith said. “But we’re expecting him to help us.”

While Doughty doesn’t want to sound confident about his chances of making the opening week roster, veteran safety Pierson Prioleau has been impressed with the rookie.

“You can tell he loves the game,” Prioleau said. “His work ethic is good and he’s willing and ready to learn. He’s going to be fine.”

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