- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A year ago, the Washington Redskins thought they had their safety tandem for the future in Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry.

Fast forward to Tuesday, when Reed Doughty and Vernon Fox - the last two safeties on the Redskins’ depth chart in 2006 - were practicing with the first team.

That certainly wasn’t the plan in the offseason, and neither was having Kareem Moore and Chris Horton, whom the Redskins drafted in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively, practicing with the second unit.

But with Stuart Schweigert released the previous evening and Landry out since pulling a hamstring July 25 - and, of course, Taylor’s death in November - that’s the Redskins’ situation.

And Horton, at least, is taking advantage of it. While Moore is still not fully recovered from knee surgery this spring, Horton recovered the opening onside kick and had two sacks and five tackles in Sunday’s preseason victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Still, he didn’t want to get too excited about his debut.

“We talked about the possibility [of an onside kick] all week,” Horton said. “My very first play in the NFL, giving the ball back to the offense, it was definitely fun. I’m excited. I made some plays, but I’m sure I made some mistakes out there, too. I don’t worry about where I was drafted. All I ever asked was an opportunity, and I’ll make the most of it. I’ve played in an NFL uniform now, but I’m not looking at it like I’ve made the team.”

Safeties coach Steve Jackson doesn’t see it that way either.

“Chris made the plays that he was supposed to make,” Jackson said. “No one blocks you on a blitz. You’re supposed to sack the quarterback. But [Colts backup quarterback Jared Lorenzen] is 315 pounds - oh, excuse me, 285 - and you’ve got to be able to bring him down. The game’s not too big for him. He has a chance to belong.”

That’s what Doughty showed in 2006 after a rough preseason debut.

“I told Chris before the game, ‘I hope you have a much better experience in your first preseason game than I did,’” said Doughty, the 2005 sixth-round pick whom the Cincinnati Bengals fooled on a flea flicker on his first play that August. “It was just one play. I played pretty good the rest of the game, but I didn’t have two sacks. Chris was awesome.”

Schweigert, an Oakland Raiders free safety whom the Redskins signed as a possible alternative to Doughty, was anything but awesome in his 64 days with the team. He played 45 snaps against the Colts and “didn’t hit anyone,” a Redskins source said.

“Because he … didn’t show signs of being able to adjust quickly enough, we didn’t give him a year to do it, because we want it now,” coach Jim Zorn said. “He’s a good athlete, and he can do a lot of things, but fitting into our scheme, we didn’t feel like he necessarily fit as quick as we need him to.”

Jackson said the Redskins are more aggressive defensively than the Raiders.

“Stuart was accustomed to playing the way they play in Oakland,” Jackson said. “We’re surprised it happened, but it just wasn’t a good fit. He had some confidence issues as far as making plays. It was an amicable split.”

Neither Schweigert nor his agent, Ben Dogra, could be reached for comment.

The Redskins replaced Schweigert with Patrick Ghee, who was with them from May 6 to June 12. The 2007 undrafted free agent from Wake Forest might not stick around long this time either.

“If there’s somebody else who comes available, we’ll look at him hard, too,” Zorn said. “We’re trying to just improve at that position.”

Only Doughty played for the Redskins even two years ago.

Fox, a career special-teamer except for when he started the final six games of the 2006 campaign, signed with Washington that August.

“Reed and Chris are very similar, conscientious, physical, tough guys,” Jackson said. “That helps them get through a lot of situations that guys with more athletic ability but not the same mental fortitude can’t get through.”

As for Landry, he did limited work Tuesday, but his status for Saturday’s home preseason opener remains in doubt.

“I thought it would just be a couple of days, but hamstrings are difficult,” Landry said. “I think it’s better, and then I try to do more, and it’s hurting again.”

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