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showtime versus the predator

(courtesy photo)

Back in September of 2008, rookie safety Chris Horton made a lasting impression in his first career start with the Washington Redskins.

In a Week 2 matchup, the New Orleans Saints committed three turnovers. All three ended up in the hands of Horton, who was thrust into the starting lineup only after an illness forced Reed Doughty out of the lineup.

The seventh-round draft pick was all over the field – recovering a fumble and intercepting Saints quarterback Drew Brees twice during Washington’s 29-24 victory. The effort was impressive enough that Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache borrowed a phrase from hockey, dubbing Horton’s feat a “hat trick.”

That week, Horton was given the nickname “The Predator” by a high schooler who happens to be my next-door neighbor. I posted something here on the website and, from that moment on, the nickname stuck.

Everywhere you look, whether in Sports Illustrated articles or on Horton’s personal website, his nickname of “The Predator” can be found.

Now, here’s where things get interesting.

Last month, nearly two full years later, Redskins receiver Devin Thomas took time out of his busy offseason schedule of modeling, appearing in music videos and hanging out with former Dancin’ with the Stars contestants to go see the new “Predators” remake, starring Adrien Brody.

Apparently the third-year receiver liked the movie, because he went on Twitter as soon as the movie and began referring to himself of “The Predator.” When fans pointed out that one of his teammates already had that nickname, Thomas posted the following:

“im the real predator chris just has the dreads!”

With that in mind, I caught up with Thomas to address the situation and to see why he felt, after two years, he should take over rights to the nickname. I mean, it was my website that got this whole thing started anyway.

“You shouldn’t have given him that nickname,” Thomas said. “The man never watches the movies. I have ‘The Predator’ on my ribs. The ribs!?! Who gets ‘The Predator’ tattooed on their ribs unless they’re really about ‘The Predator?’

“I’m about ‘The Predator,’” he continued. “I don’t have the dreads. He has the dreads, yes. So he might look like ‘The Predator.’ But when it comes to the real name, the movie, the concept of Dutch, Dillon, Billy, Poncho, Hawkins and all of the characters from the first movie – that’s me. I’m ‘The Predator.’ I ain’t got time to bleed.”

Have you talked to Horton about this? Do we need to set up something so you two can talk this out?

“If you want to,” Thomas said. “We talked about it a year or two ago when ‘The Predator’ stuff first popped up, and he didn’t really know about the movies. So I was already a little upset back then. He got the nickname ‘The Predator’ because of the dreads, but he doesn’t really know about ‘The Predator.’”

Apparently this beef has escalated to the point that teammates are being asked to pick sides.

Read more →


to catch up with the predator

It’s been a while since anyone has heard from Washington Redskins safety Chris “The Predator” Horton.

After a surprisingly solid rookie campaign put Horton on the map, his sophomore season was less than desirable for the UCLA Bruin. Thanks largely to a toe injury, Horton saw action in just eight games in 2009.

While he’s still not 100 percent, Horton is working himself back into action slowly but surely. And like many of his teammates, Horton’s encouraged by what he’s seen so far this offseason. The addition of general manager Bruce Allen, head coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has given players like Horton a reason for optimism heading into next season.

“Just look at what guys in this scheme have been able to accomplish,” he said.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, Horton simply wants to get back onto the field full time and do his best to help the Redskins win football games.

“When I come back, I might be the fifth safety,” Horton said. “I might start there, but I know one thing – I ain’t gonna finish there.”

Which is exactly the kind of mentality these coaches want to see from their players. With that mindset and plenty of hard work and determination, Horton could be back on the field sooner rather than later for the burgundy and gold.


redskins searching for answers

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Times are tough for the Washington Redskins. After losing to yet another doormat, head coach Jim Zorn and friends find themselves at the center of the storm.

A Redskins team that started 6-2 last season has crashed hard – losing 10 out of their last 14 games. As the 2009 season quickly spirals out on control, there’s a sense of hopelessness surrounding the entire organization and it’s fanbase.

With losses to bottom dwellers like Detroit, Carolina and now Kansas City, folks have one question on their mind – how did it get to this?

“From my standpoint, I look at it and take full responsibility,” said Zorn in his post-game press conference. “I am the head football coach. Nobody has more responsibility than I do. That is the way I look at it. I have got to come up with answers and I will. I think our coaches are working hard and I have confidence in what they are doing. Our players really care. We had a real good after-game meeting and it was to the point. It is going to be a very hard week. Last week I thought that it was as hard as it was going to get, but it just got harder.”

And that’s what Zorn said prior to the announcement that he would no longer handle playcalling duties. Redskins players hear Zorn week after week, as he tries to shoulder the blame for all of the team’s deficiencies, and they can’t help but feel sorry for him and the situation they’ve put him in.

“You know, it’s tough,” said defensive end Andre Carter. “Coach Zorn said he’s got to figure out how to help the offense. But we told him, it’s on us as players. He can make the calls, but it’s on us – on both sides of the ball – to execute. Coach Zorn is a great coach. We enjoy him – his presence, his jokes, his long stories – I mean, he’s a great guy. We’re coming in tomorrow as if he’s going to still be here. We can’t control what’s going to happen up top. But we can control how we play.”

Redskins receiver Malcolm Kelly took it one step further.

“I feel really sorry for the man,” Kelly said. “It’s almost like a quarterback and a coach are the same. If a team is losing, those are the first two people they’re going to point a finger at. It doesn’t matter if nothing around them is going right, they always take the blame. But a lot of the time, he shouldn’t take the blame. It should fall on the guys out there playing football. I feel really sorry for him though, because it’s a “show me” type league and they want to see us win. They’re going to say what they’re going to say and tear him down, but we want him back.”

The bottom line is – football isn’t very fun when you’re struggling as badly as the Redskins are.

“I think this week’s been really tough for us,” said tight end Chris Cooley. “I think the last few have been because we’ve put in so much work and there are such high expectations of this team. Not just from the media or our fanbase, but from inside. We expect a lot, and to keep losing is rough. I know it’s hard on a lot of guys and especially on the staff. We’ve just got to keep working. I know I’m going to, and I count on my teammates to do the same.”

Regardless of expectations, for the third time this season a previously winless team got its first victory of the season at the expense of the Redskins. How the hell does that happen?

“I’m really at a loss for words,” said safety Reed Doughty. “I don’t feel like we’re a 2-4 team. I look at how we started off last year and what we did the year before, and now, I’m just dumbfounded. Somehow, we’re just not putting it all together. I don’t know what changes are going to be made, but hopefully we can get on a roll.”

But in order for this team to get on any sort of roll, some serious soul searching is in order. Not just with the players, but with coaches and even management. Until then, the Redskins will likely suffer the same fate as they have against the Lions, the Panthers and the Chiefs.

“That’s why it’s so frustrating,” said safety Chris “The Predator” Horton. “We know we should have come out and beat this team. Every man needs to go home and look in the mirror and say ‘I need to do better.’ Even if you had a great game, you need to see what you can do to help this team win games.”

Everyone on the roster should realize exactly what’s at stake now. We’re not talking about wins and losses. We’re not talking about playing for pride. We’re talking about people losing jobs if things don’t get better in a hurry.

Regardless of who is calling the plays or who is taking the snaps or even who is on the offensive line, the Redskins need better results. If not, it’s only a matter of time before sweeping changes are made.


horton handles adversity

(photo by Brian Murphy)

This has been an up-and-down season for Washington Redskins safety Chris “The Predator” Horton, to say the least.

In the Week 1 loss to the New York Giants, Horton was benched in the second half, even though he finished the game second on the team in tackles, with nine. No explanation has been given.

One week later, on third-and-goal against the St. Louis Rams, Horton caused a fourth-quarter fumble that cornerback Carlos Rogers recovered to preserve the 9-7 win in the team’s home opener.

During Week 3, Horton was whistled on a 47-yard pass interference call in the deciding moments of the stomach-punch loss to the Detroit Lions. Adding insult to injury, it was then announced that Horton would be removed from the starting lineup in favor of Reed Doughty.

This week, defensive end Jeremy Jarmon caused a fumble with a pivotal third-down strip and Horton pounced on the loose football to hold off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That means that, even though Horton has been relegated to a reserve role, he’s made the play to seal both Redskins victories this season.

“It was just one of those things,” Horton said. “One of our linemen got a hand on the ball and when it came out; I was just running to the football. I truly believe that when I go to the ball, good things happen for me.

“As far as starting, yeah, I was a little disappointed,” said Horton. “But my job here is to do whatever I can to help this team win. Whether it’s me starting or Reed, I know I’m going to get playing time, and when I’m in there, I’m going to do my job. I’m not sitting around like, “Aw, man. I’m not starting, so I don’t have anything to look forward to.’ Guys are still counting on me.”

If you keep making these clutch fourth-quarter plays, you’re only making it tougher for coaches to keep you off the field, right?

“I’m always going to try and make it hard for them,” he said. “I’m going to come out each week, practice hard and compete. If every game from here on out Reed is the starter and I’m the backup, then so be it. I’m going to live with it, come out and give it my all and continue to make plays.”

We’ve got to ask you about an ugly situation involving a blogger on your website calling out Greg Blache, Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall. Can you explain what the hell happened with that?

“I still haven’t seen what was written,” Horton said. “But to sum it up, I had a contest for fans during the preseason to pick my in-season blogger. We found a guy who did a great job in the preseason, and now, obviously he said some things that I don’t feel that way about. It’s his opinion, but at the same time, once I got word of it I had it taken down immediately. That’s not how I feel, and that’s not the kind of attitude I want to promote.”

Hopefully this is something your blogger will learn from, because something like this is only going to cause an unnecessary distraction to a team already struggling for wins.

“Hopefully,” he said. “Because if not, he definitely won’t be blogging for me anymore. I want to keep my site as positive as can be. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if he wants to do that, then put it on your own website. These are my teammates. I care about these guys and I’d never say something like that about them. If I had something to say about them, I’d say it to their face, not on a website.”


horton saves the day

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Okay, we admit there wasn’t a lot to love in the Washington Redskins’ 9-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams Sunday. The head coach’s playcalling abilities have been brought into question after another less-than-stellar outing, the offense sputtered any time they were in a position to actually put points on the board and the defense continued to let their opponent convert too many third downs.

But all is not lost.

First of all, the Redskins did not play their best game, and yet, still came away with a win. In a league where victories are hard to come by, that is always huge. And the second takeaway was the inspired play of safety Chris “The Predator” Horton, who provided the game’s two biggest highlights when the outcome was still very much in the balance.

With St. Louis in a position to retake the lead in the fourth quarter on third-and-goal from the nine, the talented safety delivered a monster hit on Rams wide out Donnie Avery that jarred the ball loose, and cornerback Carlos Rogers recovered the fumble.

Horton’s second highlight came on the Rams’ final offensive play of the day. On fourth-and-10, Marc Bulger threw a pass deep down the right sideline to Avery, which Horton defended beautifully to end the game. The play was eerily reminiscent of the 43-yard bomb Bulger completed to Avery a year ago which enabled St. Louis to kick the game-winning field goal – giving the Rams one of their two wins in 2008 while providing the Redskins with a stomach-punch loss to an inferior opponent.

So naturally, we caught up with Horton after the game to talk about his memorable performance and the team’s first win of 2009.

The game was getting scary there towards the end and you guys definitely needed someone to step up and make a play. Go ahead and walk us through your big forced fumble.

“I think we might have been in man coverage and my job is to read the quarterback,” Horton said. “Once he threw it, I just ran over there and it’s just one of those things – I got the ball out, but it wasn’t because I did anything special. I wasn’t trying to cause a fumble or anything. I just read the play and ran to the ball. I feel like every time I do that, something positive always happens.”

These early-season home games have become your calling card. A year ago you burst onto the scene with your monster game against New Orleans and you did it again against the Rams. What’s really going on?

“I just try and come out the gate and make plays,” he said. “One thing I’m really trying to focus on though is later in the year last year I kind of hit a wall. Everything got overwhelming and I started to feel really sore and beat up because it was my first NFL season. This year, I’m learning how to take care of my body more. It’s one of those things – I want to start fast and try to continue it throughout the entire season.”

There was some serious déjà vu on the fourth-and-10 play, where Bulger aired it out for Avery. A year ago they connected on that play, but this time around you made the play to seal the win. What did you see on that play?

“Basically, we were in Cover 2, but it turns into man-to-man once he gets that far down the field,” Horton said. “I was just thinking, ‘Keep running and don’t let this guy catch the ball.’ I knew I had a lot of guys counting on me, and I happened to make the play.”

We double checked the standings and the NFL doesn’t keep track of ugly wins versus pretty wins. How big was it for you guys to pick up this victory?

“Very big, very big,” he said. “A win is a win, you know. It doesn’t matter how many points you win by. If they gave out half points and we could win by half points, we’d still take the W.”

While Horton preferred to downplay things believing he was just doing his job, his teammates definitely took notice that when the game was on the line, “The Predator” was there to finish the job.

“It was huge,” said linebacker Brian Orakpo of Horton’s forced fumble. “Because if they converted on that play, who knows what happens. They could keep driving and score a touchdown or fieldgoal, and the game is lost. Horton made a huge play on the ball and we thank him for that and for getting us off the field.

“He’s a hard-nosed, hard-hitting safety who plays very smart and is just a guy who is all over the field,” Orakpo continued. “I really try to learn him.”

So, even though there is still plenty of work still to be done on the 2009 Washington Redskins, because of the play of guys like Chris Horton, the team was able to sneak away with a victory. And if Horton’s play inspired a guy like Orakpo to find ways to improve his game, well, then some good came out of Week 2 after all. With all of the negativity out there this week, it’s nice to have at least one positive to focus on.


rams playlist

(photo by Brian Murphy)

1. “Respect This Hustle” by T.I.

One week ago, for reasons that remain unclear, the Washington Redskins coaching staff saw fit to replace safety Chris “The Predator” Horton in the lineup against the New York Giants. No explanation was given, and honestly, no one really made an issue out of it – even though, in his limited playing time, Horton still racked up nine tackles (second best on the team, behind only middle linebacker London Fletcher’s 18 tackles). They felt more comfortable using other players and Horton was left stranded on the sidelines for much of the second half of the 23-17 loss.

Fast forward to the home opener against the St. Louis Rams. Horton may be a quiet guy, but he’s got a lot of pride, and those who know him were fairly confident he’d make a statement with his play. Boy did he ever. On a day when points were at a premium, Horton made two big-time plays in the fourth quarter to ensure the ‘Skins earned their first win of the season, 9-7 over the St. Louis Rams.

Horton’s first game-saving play came on the Rams’ first drive of the fourth quarter. On third-and-goal, the talented safety forced a fumble in the red zone, which Carlos Rogers recovered. The second play, which came after the Redskins offense stalled yet again, sealed the win for the burgundy and gold.

On fourth-and-10, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger threw a pass deep down the right sideline to wide out Donnie Avery, which Horton defended beautifully to preserve the win. The play was eerily reminiscent of the 43-yard pass Bulger to Avery a year ago that enabled the Rams to kick a crushing fieldgoal in one of the low points of the 2008 season. The take-home message – Horton is better than Leigh Torrence. And more importantly, the Redskins are better with Horton on the field.

2. “Never There” by Cake

At times, the Redskins offense looked like the real deal – moving the ball up and down the field with quick passes up the middle and well-timed running plays. They had the ball for just under 35 minutes, which was 11 minutes more time of possession than in Week 1, and finished the day with 362 yards of total offense.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the offense was simply incapable of scoring in the red zone. The official stat sheet says they went 0 for 5 on the day. The offensive line and fullback Mike Sellers got no push on running plays, meaning running back Clinton Portis was seemingly fighting for his life every time he got the ball in the red zone. The passing game was plagued by dropped passes and inconsistent play.

When Portis threw a red-zone pass intended for tight end Chris Cooley, it reeked of desperation. When coach Jim Zorn elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the two yard line with two minutes to play, the Redskins actually lost yards on the play. Had the Redskins defense not been up to the challenge, we’d be sitting here discussing an inexcusable home loss to a previously winless Rams team for the second straight year.

3. “I Alone” by Live

Last week punter Hunter Smith provided the bulk of the team’s scoring on a well-designed fake fieldgoal run just before halftime. This week, it was all kicker Shaun Suisham. Typically the only time kickers receive attention is when they screw up (does the phrase “wide right” mean anything to the good people of Buffalo?) So for that reason, we wanted to formally recognize Suisham for ensuring the Redskins weren’t shut out against a doormat opponent like the Rams.

4. “A Good Idea At The Time” by OK Go

The Redskins front office, for reasons that will never be explained, opted to go into the 2009 season with an old and fragile offensive line. Tackle Chris Samuels was coming off of a season-ending injury and guard Randy Thomas has seemingly been injured for most of the time he’s been on the Redskins’ payroll. But instead of investing a draft pick or two on what is universally thought to be the team’s biggest weakness, the team decided to roll the dice hoping the return of guard Derrick Dockery in place of Pete Kendall would be enough to help the team get by.

But let’s turn our attention back to Thomas. He missed most of the 2007 season with a left triceps injury. He played all 16 games in 2008, but did so with a herniated disk in his neck which required off-season surgery to repair. And now, it looks as though he’s done for the year with a right triceps injury. Whether it’s bad luck, old age or a combination of the two, Thomas is now back to wearing a baseball cap and sweatpants on gameday. And the team is now left scrambling to find a replacement via free agency or trade unless Chad Rinehart shocks the world and proves he’s actually ready to become an NFL player.

5. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” by Kanye West

Kayne West has done a lot of ignorant things during his career, but it’s safe to say his recent stunt at MTV’s VMAs takes the cake. Storming onto the stage in a drunken stupor during what should have been a highlight of a 19-year-old girl’s life is inexcusable. In related news, several “fans” of the Washington Redskins saw fit to boo their own team during the final moments of the game Sunday afternoon – which is fine … until you remember that the Redskins won the game.

Look, we fully appreciate that every team in every sport goes through the charade of saying “We have the best fans in the world,” and it’s almost always bullshit. Redskins fans have heard it for so long, that many actually believe it – evenly though their “sold out” stadium has large sections that are regularly vacant on gameday. Or the fact that a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers can roll into town and pretty much take over FedEx Field for the evening. Or the fact that they think the wave is socially acceptable. They’ve heard it for so long, it must be true.

A year ago, there was such a large contingency of clueless ‘Skins fans that the team had to create a video package – complete with “Shhhhh”-ing sound effects – instructing the mouth breathers in attendance to shut up when the team’s offense has the ball. So really, yesterday’s events aren’t out of character for the vocal minority. But that doesn’t make it right when fans boo and throw debris onto the field as the home team is jogging off the field after winning the game.

Let us be perfectly clear on this – there is never a reason for fans to boo their team after a win. When you hear stories of this type of behavior, it’s almost always about the Philly faithful. But at least they’re consistent. As far as we’re concerned, the actions of the portion of the Redskins fanbase who saw fit to boo and throw stuff at players was just as classless as Kanye West. President Obama might even call them jackasses.

[Editor’s note: Redskins blogger Matt Terl shares a reader-submitted image that goes nicely with our recap.]


return of the predator

(photo by Brian Murphy)

It’s no secret that players love their downtime. Some choose to spend their offseason spoiling themselves with exotic vacations to remote locations. Others find any excuse to hang with teammates. Washington Redskins safety Chris “The Predator” Horton opted to spend his first offseason in a more low-key fashion – catching up with loved ones.

We tracked down everyone’s favorite safety Monday afternoon after Horton completed his first day of the Redskins’ offseason conditioning program.

How tough was it to head back to Redskins Park after having a nice, long break?

“It was different, but exciting,” Horton said. “It’s just another chance to hang out with your buddies. It’s a good thing to do, as far as working out, so you’re all on the same schedule rather than being at home while your friends are at work all the time.”

Okay, be honest, how much did you worry about keeping in shape and eating right during your offseason?

“It was somewhat important, but I didn’t go to the extreme with it,” he said. “I know I’ve got some time to continue to get into shape and be ready to go when camp and the season roll around.”

How did you spend your summer vacation?

“I didn’t really do too much exciting stuff,” Horton said. “I just hung out with the family for a couple weeks and then went out to L.A. and hung out with my girl. You know, I didn’t really do too much. I just kept it easy.”

You’re family is in New Orleans, right?

“Yes,” he said.

So was it was nice head back and get some home-cooked meals?

“Yeah, definitely,” Horton said. “You can’t beat that. Going home and every night, there’s some food that’s going to be on the stove that I haven’t had in I don’t know how long. Just getting the chance to go home and, you know, see everyone is always good.”

Are you trying to tell us your mom’s home cooking is better than anything you eat with your bachelor lifestyle in Ashburn?

(Laughs). “Oh, definitely,” he said.

Okay, you’ve had some time to think about it – what the hell happened during the final eight games of last season? How did this team go from 6-2 to 2-6 seemingly overnight?

“Oh, man, I wish I could tell you,” Horton said. “I guess it was more of a case of not being able to finish it, everyone not being on the same page and those kind of things because I really don’t know what went wrong. You know, I still want to know what happened.”

This is your first offseason with the team and you’re learning that things are rarely quiet at Redskins Park this time of year. What was your reaction when you found out Albert Haynesworth is now your teammate?

“I was excited to get there and see him,” he said. “Everyone said he’s a big guy, so when I finally saw him and looked at him, I realized they’re right – he’s a really big dude. I’m excited to have him be a part of the Washington Redskins because I know what type of player he is.”

What can he do to help a player like you out on that defense?

“Any time you get a guy like that, you know for a fact that he’s going to get some pressure on the quarterback,” Horton said. “Now most teams are going to have to switch it up and run to the outside just because he’s there in the middle.”

What did you think of the team bringing back DeAngelo Hall?

“It’s the exact same thing – I’m excited,” he said. “He was a guy who came in for half a season and the things he did, the way he performed and the way he helped the team, I think it’s definitely a good thing to have him back because hopefully he’s going to be able to build on that and go into next season knowing how good he can be here.”

Your rookie season has come and gone. What can ‘Skins fans expect from you this season?

“I still feel like I’ve got a lot to prove and I still feel like there’s a lot more that I can do,” Horton said. “I’m not going to dwell on what I did last year because that’s in the past. Every time you step on that field it’s like a new interview. I’ve still got to go out and show people that I can play football.”

Some folks around town say you’re solid against the run, but you need to step up your game in pass coverage. What say you?

“I gave up, maybe one touchdown the whole year when I was actually covering somebody man-to-man,” he said. “All we do is play man-to-man. There’s always going to be something everyone thinks you need to work on, but I know what I can do against the run. I know what I can do against the pass. I’m just going to continue to get better.”

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