- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2009

In the offseason, Reed Doughty was hoping to be a special teams contributor and maybe play some defense for the Washington Redskins.

When the Redskins host Tampa Bay on Sunday, Doughty, who missed most of last season after back surgery, will be the starting strong safety in place of Chris Horton.

“Reed has actually played better the last couple weeks, and Chris has struggled a little bit,” Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. “It’s not that we’re down on Chris, but the fact we have a guy in Reed that is so close to him, it gives us an opportunity to give him a chance, and it gives Chris a chance to catch his breath and refocus.”

Doughty has nine career starts but lost the strong safety job to Horton last season before going on injured reserve.

“Chris and I are both capable starters and capable players,” Doughty said. “I’m starting the game, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to play every down.”

The Redskins’ coaches sold the move as a complement to Doughty’s progress rather than an indictment of Horton’s play.

“It’s not Chris is playing worse than anybody else,” safeties coach Steve Jackson said. “Reed’s playing at a high level.”

Added coach Jim Zorn: “Chris works hard and gives great effort, and yet every time Reed’s been on the field, he’s been in the gaps he’s needed to be in and in the coverage he’s needed to be in.”

Horton struggled in the opening three games. He was limited to five second-half snaps against the New York Giants but played most of the snaps against St. Louis and Detroit. Doughty, meanwhile, has played 30, 10 and 29 snaps this season and has 13 tackles.

“It’s a little bit disappointing - I would be standing here lying if I didn’t tell you it wasn’t because I’m a competitor,” Horton said. “It’s not going to change the way I prepare for a game. I could be the guy in there on the next play, so I just have to sit back, and when they call on me, I have to make plays.”

Said Blache: “You’ll still see Chris on the field.”

Divergent paths

Defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, the 21-year-old former Kentucky standout, is heading into just the fourth game of his NFL career. But he played more snaps on defense in last week’s loss at Detroit than he did in the first two games combined.

Meanwhile, third-round pick Kevin Barnes has been inactive every week. The Maryland product remains stuck behind veterans DeAngelo Hall, Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot as well as special teams regulars Justin Tryon and Byron Westbrook on the depth chart at cornerback.

“I’m definitely caught up,” said Jarmon, who was taken in the third round of the July 16 supplemental draft, long after Barnes and his fellow rookies had finished minicamp and organized team activities. “My leash at this point is gone. They expect me, if I’m out there, to get it right.”

Jarmon’s role could expand soon. He already is ahead of 13-year veteran end Renaldo Wynn, who has been inactive all three games. And Phillip Daniels turns 37 in March.

“It definitely has worked out pretty well under the circumstances,” said Jarmon, who lost his NCAA eligibility after testing positive for a banned substance. “I love it here. I love the guys on the team. I’m in a great place, and I want to stay.”

Barnes wasn’t supposed to be behind Westbrook, but the former practice squad player elevated his game this summer. Barnes also struggled in coverage in the preseason.

“Who are you going to sit down to get him up?” Blache asked. “But his time will come when his time comes. He’s not as good as those other guys right now.”

Hall, Griffin hurt

Hall, the Redskins’ top cornerback, and Cornelius Griffin, their mainstay at defensive tackle, were injured during Thursday’s practice. Coach Jim Zorn said Hall “tweaked” an ankle and Griffin bruised a thigh.

Defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery, who was inactive the first three games, didn’t practice because of a possible recurrence of tendinitis in his left knee.

Montgomery is the least likely of the ailing Redskins to play Sunday. Also sitting out were defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (hip), running back Clinton Portis (calf) and fullback Mike Sellers (quadriceps).

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