- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2007

Inactive for the previous three games and buried on the Washington Redskins’ defensive and special teams depth charts, Reed Doughty knew the deal: When the next chance came, he had to produce or else.

For the first half of his rookie season, Doughty, a sixth-round draft pick from Northern Colorado, received praise on how well he learned the defense, how hard he practiced and how much he had improved since arriving for rookie camp. Come game day, though, it wasn’t translating into results.

Around midseason, Doughty had a shape-up talk with himself.

“Early on, I was getting nervous too much and not playing — I don’t know what I was doing out there,” he said. “I was being mechanical about everything. As the season wore on, I told myself I was going to play like I did in college. The players are bigger and faster, but it’s still football. After that, I really felt like I played a lot better.”

Although the Redskins finished the season 5-11, Doughty ended the season on a personal high. Injuries to other players opened the door for him on special teams and several big hits kept him on the field. He played the final six games and was a regular on most of the special teams during the last month of the season.

Although he finished with only three defensive tackles in 10 games, Doughty had 19 special teams tackles.

“I enjoyed the season — I was able to keep plugging away and get into a routine,” said Doughty, who since July has periodically shared his thoughts on the transition from Division I-AA to the NFL with The Washington Times. “I didn’t get to play for a while and I told myself that the next I play, I want to show the coaches that I shouldn’t be taken off the field.”

Doughty hopes he established himself enough that the Redskins see him as a part of next year’s plans. Off the field, Doughty and his wife, Katie, welcomed their first child, Micah, in late August. Their son developed kidney problems that eventually will necessitate a transplant.

“The last few months, they’ve told us he would have to start on dialysis the next month,” Reed said. “It’s probably sooner rather than later.”

Micah continues to grow and his last doctor’s appointment revealed he is in the 50th percentile in weight and 85th percentile in height.

“Long and lean,” Reed said. “It’s been nice being around him. During the season, I still got to spend quite a bit of time with him, but now I can be with him the whole day and hang out.”

Micah’s birth came a day before the Redskins’ final preseason game. When the baby developed complications, Reed stayed in Colorado and missed the game. He was inactive for the opener but made his NFL debut against Dallas in Week 2 before sitting out two straight games.

“I definitely understood where they were coming from,” he said. “They gave me a chance against Dallas. It’s not like I lost the game for us, but I didn’t claim a position and they felt I needed more time. They weren’t going to put me out there because they had nobody else. They went and got somebody else.”

Doughty saw massive turnover at his safety position. Pierson Prioleau sustained a season-ending injury in the opener; Adam Archuleta was banished to the bench; Curry Burns was cut twice; Vernon Fox rose from special teamer to starter; and Troy Vincent was signed at midseason and started immediately.

But Doughty got a few chances on defense, including both Giants games.

Late in the season, assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said: “He’s really grown tremendously from about midseason on. Defensively, he has been making significant progress. The game starts to slow down a little bit [for rookies]. You try to present them with as many things as you can in training camp. … We’re starting to see the skills that we saw from him in college.”

Said Doughty: “I felt confident that if they put me in a ballgame, I could hold my own. I felt I showed the coaches in practice I could make quick decisions and be in the right spot.”

Following the season, the Doughtys returned to Colorado for two weeks. Back at their Loudoun County home, Reed already has started to run and will soon start cardiovascular work. The Redskins’ offseason program begins in March.

“My coach [Steve Jackson] told me I have to continue to improve and this is the time do it,” he said. “I have to work on my man coverage, but I know the system and now it’s about just playing and letting my ability take over.

“I felt I progressed a lot during the season. I expected this to be tough and it was really tough at times and there was a lot of pressure to perform. But once I got that under control, I played better and knew what to expect.”

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