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Chris Horton a lock?

Aug 5, 2008, 9:00 AM EDT

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It probably would be inaccurate to say that Chris Horton is happy that fellow Washington Redskins safety Stuart Schweigert is now his former teammate. Pros, even rookies, don’t revel in players becoming unemployed, even ones that play the same position.

However, although Horton isn’t doing a happy dance, it’s doubtful that he’s moping around the conference center that the Redskins are calling home during training camp after hearing the news of the former Raider’s departure. While Schweigert’s departure doesn’t guarantee a roster spot for the seventh-round pick in the April draft, it helps Horton immeasurably.

You don’t play your way onto a roster in one preseason game, especially the first of five, and you don’t play your way off of the team in that one game, either. However, if what happens in that game reinforces impressions—negative or positive—that the coaching staff has about your play, that one game can be decisive.

Schweigert has more starting experience than the rest of the corps of safeties combined, but he’s been practically invisible in training camp. His lackluster performance has been in contrast to that of Horton, who has been living up to his reputation is a big hitter.

On the Colts’ first touchdown, Onrea Jones bolted by rookie cornerback Justin Tryon and into the open to catch a 30-yard touchdown pass from Quinn Gray. Arriving into the picture way too late was Schweigert, who apparently was supposed to be covering the deep zone.

It’s not unreasonable to figure that the coaches thought that if Schweigert couldn’t handle his assignment on the Gray to O. Jones combination the duos of Romo to Owens and Manning to Burress would be beyond the scope of his abilities. They hadn’t seen anything in practice to counter that impression, so the decision was made to let him go.

Horton isn’t ready for prime time either, but he is hustling and he’s eager to learn. In his very first play as a professional football player he had the presence of mind to watch for the onside kick and the recovered the ball after one or two teammates had muffed chances to do so. He was greatly aided on his two sacks by the fact that the Colts’ blitz pickups were nonexistent, but you have to give him credit for going in and making the tackles. His takedown of Jared Lorenzen was particularly impressive. A lot of DB’s would have bounced off of the 285-lb. quarterback trying to make a big hit, but Horton just grabbed hold and wrestled him to the ground.

Just like the numbers game works against Marcus Mason, it works in favor of Chris Horton. Patrick Ghee, a second-year player who was on the Carolina practice squad for a while last year, was signed in Schweigert’s spot, so there still are six safeties on the roster. The Redskins are likely to keep five, so that means that Horton just has to beat out either Ghee or Kareem Moore. The former has already been cut by the Skins earlier this year and although the latter was selected 69 spots ahead of Horton, Moore has been sidelines with a knee problem for most of OTA’s and camp.

Horton’s not a lock, but he’s as close to one as a seventh-round pick can be after one-fifth of the preseason schedule.

Join me for a live blog of Saturday’s preseason game. Go here for details.

  1. Joe in Raleigh - Aug 5, 2008 at 2:20 PM

    I saw 48 running around, making all the plays, and I thought to myself, boy Stephen Davis sure let his hair down. Took me a while to read his name from under that mop, but man, he was EVERYWHERE.

    Like you said, he won’t earn a roster spot in the Hall of Fame Game, but he probably earned some practice time and the attention of the coaches. Hopefully he can keep it up and stay healthy.

  2. jupde - Aug 5, 2008 at 7:15 PM

    Meet him at training camp. He came over and signed a ball for my son. This man is a class act. Very polite. You will be hearing Chris Horton’s name around the NFL!!

  3. Rich Tandler - Aug 5, 2008 at 8:44 PM

    As I’ve said elsewhere, he had a reputation as a knockout artist at UCLA. That’s why I was so impressed that he wrestled Lorenzen to the ground rather than trying to pop him.

  4. RB from Alexandria - Aug 5, 2008 at 9:15 PM

    I’d like to see him make some plays in pass defense. Obviously, he can blitz and play the run. However, the thing that separates a good safety from a bad one is how he plays pass defense.

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