All posts in predator


run portis run

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Life for running back Clinton Portis and the Washington Redskins is pretty darn groovy at the midpoint of the 2008 season. For starters, he leads the league in rushing with 944 yards, which is 260 yards more than anyone else in the league. That also puts Portis on pace to finish with 1,888 rushing yards, or roughly 300 more than his previous best season. But even with Clinton putting up monster numbers on a weekly basis, he still doesn’t sound overly concerned with personal accomplishments.

“All the personal stats and personal ideas [about putting up big numbers], wanting to do this and wanting to do that is out for me,” Portis said last week. “I want to win. It does not matter if I have 175 yards or if I have 75 yards, if we come out with a win, I come out with a smile on my face.

“I think we are playing great team ball right now, and that’s what is going to take us down the stretch,” Portis said.

And while that’s great for Portis to say – especially when so many people out there paint him as a “me-first” kind of guy – the truth is the Redskins have needed him to do the heavy lifting through the first half of the season and he’s delivered, which is why the ‘Skins stand 6-2 at the halfway point of the season.

We decided to break down the first half of each of Portis’ five seasons with the Redskins and see what the number crunching showed. Here’s what we found out:

In 2008, Portis has 187 carries for 944 yards (5.0 per carry) and seven touchdowns. Most importantly, the Redskins are 6-2.

In 2007, Portis had 151 carries for 629 yards (4.2 per carry) and six touchdowns. The ‘Skins went 5-3.

In 2006, Portis had 127 carries for 523 yards (4.1 per carry) and seven touchdowns. The ‘Skins went 2-6.

In 2005, Portis had 148 carries for 620 yards (4.2 per carry) and four touchdowns. The ‘Skins went 5-3.

In 2004, Portis had 204 carries for 810 yards (4.0 per carry) and two touchdowns. The ‘Skins went 3-5.

Most importantly, the Redskins are 10-2 when Portis rushes for at least 100 yards during this timeframe. Now that we’ve laid the case for Clinton, please allow us to play devil’s advocate.

Hey Casey Rabach, here’s your chance to tell us Portis is just rushing for all these yards because his offensive line is so awesome. What say you?

“I can’t say that,” he told us last week. “As a whole the offensive line is playing pretty well, but definitely credit goes to Clinton. He’s running hard, he’s making yards after contact and breaking tackles. He’s definitely a huge part of this offense.”

So much for that line of thinking. What do you think of the steam Portis is gaining as a possible NFL most valuable player candidate?

“That would be awesome if he could pull that out,” Rabach said. “That’s what an offensive lineman dreams for – to see a guy you’re playing with excel and earn that honor.”

If he does win the award, what should the offensive line get as a thank-you gift?

“You know, it doesn’t matter,” he said with a laugh. “It’d definitely be appreciated, but …

Have you guys talked with him about it yet?

“Oh, Randy [Thomas] definitely has talks with him here and there,” Rabach said. “He’ll definitely take care of us, that’s for sure.”

Next up, we wanted to ask some of the defensive players what it means to have someone like Portis, capable of sustaining time-consuming drives, on the same team. How great it is to sit on the sidelines all fresh and relaxed while he’s running wild on opposing teams?

“He’s looking good, man,” said rookie safety Chris “The Predator” Horton. “And that offensive line is doing a great job of giving him holes and letting him run. He’s a great back and if that offensive line continues to give him big holes … I could run through them.”

Wait a minute. Did you just say you could put up the numbers that Portis has this year behind that offensive line? Pete Kendall had a carry and we saw how that turned out.

(Laughs). “Not at all,” Horton said. “I’m going to continue to do what I do and try to get better at what I do on the defensive side of the ball. Maybe some day [Horton can worry about offense], but not right now.”

Even though Horton realized he’d put his foot in his mouth and began back pedaling as quickly as possible, it didn’t stop us from having a little fun at his expense.

Hey Marcus Washington, Chris Horton said the offensive line is playing so well that even he could run through those holes. What do you say to that?

(Laughing. A lot). “I don’t think he could run through those holes,” Washington said while still laughing at the thought of Horton playing on offense. “We won’t mess with him right now. He’s playing well too, so we won’t mess with his confidence too much.”

So aside from Horton, pretty much everyone in town sees just how impressive Clinton Portis’ play has been thus far this season. Needless to say, if he continues at this level of play for the remainder of the season, then the Redskins will most likely be involved in some meaningful games come January. That’s news any Redskins fan can be proud of.


ready for prime time

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time once again for what has become our weekly conversation with rookie safety Chris “The Predator” Horton. Last week, the topic of conversation was on his Hollywood-inspired nickname. This week, we had even better news for everyone’s favorite rookie.

That’s because this past Sunday, while heading into FedEx Field, we saw something special – we saw Redskins fans tailgating before the game in number 48 Chris Horton jerseys. We even stopped the fans sporting the brand-new burgundy Horton jerseys and were promised that their apparel was not, in fact, custom ordered. We knew the kid was catching on, but we had no clue he’d reached a point where the NFL already felt the need to try and cash in. Since this was news to us, we figured it was as good an excuse as any to catch up with The Predator.

How special does it feel for a seventh-round draft pick to already have his jersey for sale roughly a month into his first season?

“It’s exciting,” said Horton. “I feel privileged that the Redskins gave me an opportunity and that they drafted me. I’m just making the best out of it. A lot of teams passed me up because they said I couldn’t play, but the Redskins saw something in me and said, ‘This kid could be special one day.’”

Have you seen any fans sporting your jersey yet?

“Not yet,” he said. “But it’s going to be exciting, you know. I’m glad they’re showing their support for me. I’m going to continue to keep coming out and giving them my best football.”

And most importantly, why should fans spend their hard-earned money on a Chris Horton jersey?

“Because I feel like I’m the underdog,” he said. “No one ever gave me a chance to come out and play, and I think [the Redskins] got a guy with great character who does everything the right way on and off the field. I’m going to give Redskins fans everything I’ve got every Sunday.”

A personal promise from Horton to thank fans wearing his jersey by giving 110 percent each and every Sunday? If this isn’t enough to make diehard fans spend their paychecks on a Horton jersey instead of other frivolous items such as gas or groceries, then we don’t know what is.


to name a predator

(photo by Brian Murphy)

With the way things have gone here at Homer McFanboy over the last couple weeks I was worried we were heading into high school gossip territory. Even though we weren’t saying anything negative, we’ve been sitting here talking about a certain player behind his back lately, and we just didn’t feel comfortable about it. So today, we confronted the situation and pulled rookie safety Chris Horton aside.

We’ve got to bring something to your attention. It seems the fans have given you a nickname …

“I think I already know it,” Horton said. “The Predator?”

This really was becoming high school, with Horton surprising me by already having the nickname get back to him. Rattled, I tried to press forward.

As a safety who seems to have a knack for being around the football that’s a compliment, right?

“Yeah, it’s a funny name, but when I think about how that guy looks I don’t know if that’s so much of a compliment,” he said with a laugh.

My guess is, unlike in basketball or other sports, the fans can’t really see your face. They just see the helmet and the hair as you swoop in and make another play.

(Laughs). “It’s a good thing, I guess,” he said. “The Predator, his role, he’s a deadly guy. Some of the things he did and some of the weapons he had in the movie were insane. So I guess it’s a good thing.”

And what are some of the weapons you have?

“I love to hit,” Horton said. “I love to try and hit guys as hard as I can.”

So its official – Chris Horton approves of his new nickname “The Predator,” which is great because my neighbor kid has already put “gave an NFL player a nickname” on his resume.


predator 2

This needs to be said up front – Redskins rookie Chris Horton had a grand total of four interceptions during his entire college career. That’s right, in 41 career games at UCLA, Horton picked off four passes.

So naturally, Horton, who we lovingly refer to as “The Predator,” has three interceptions in his first four NFL games. This past weekend, with the Washington Redskins in an intense battle with their hated rival, the Dallas Cowboys, it was Horton making the game-changing play with time running out in the third quarter. In a battle of a Pro Bowl quarterback and an unheralded seventh-round rookie, “The Predator” struck again.

“We had been running that defense all day,” Horton said. “You know, just trying to get that guy to throw the ball in that spot. I just kind of baited it up. I knew where I was supposed to be, got myself into position and read the receiver’s eyes. He threw it, and I picked it.”

He, of course, would be Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, the gun slinging media darling who attempted a short pass to wide out Miles Austin down the right sideline. Horton hung back just long enough to lull Romo into a false sense of security and then sprinted to the ball before Austin even knew what hit him. The ‘Skins went into the final quarter with a 23-17 lead and never looked back.

“That’s a really good team we just beat over there,” Horton said. “There’s some things that we’ve got to go back and correct because we do play these guys again.”

Back to the interceptions. Seriously, how does a guy with four picks in college suddenly become a ballhawk seemingly overnight?

“I’m feeling very comfortable,” Horton said. “I don’t know what it is. I tell my teammates all the time that my hands have gotten a lot better since I got to the NFL. I’m catching a lot of balls that in college …”

Can we get you to work with Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers?

(Laughs). “When the ball comes to those guys, they’ll make their plays,” he said. “I think I’m just making plays right now and I’m doing whatever it takes to help my team win.”

After the Saints game I told you that you should be starting, but you disagreed. Fast forward to this week and the Redskins actually named you a starter against the Cowboys. That must mean you’re doing something right.

“I am, but … in the second half I got pulled,” Horton said. “I got pulled from the game, but I know my coaches believe in me. I just got to continue to get better every week.”

When asked why he was pulled, Horton said he was responsible for the Cowboys’ first two touchdowns. Horton said he was out of position on the touchdown catches by tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Terrell Owens, prompting the coaches to rotate Horton and safety Reed Doughty throughout the rest of the game. But Horton wasn’t worried about that. He was simply pleased that the ‘Skins got the win.

The team has a 24-hour rule, so how are you going to enjoy this win?

“I’m going to go home, relax, you know, tomorrow I’ll forget about it and go back to practice,” Horton said. “I’m excited. It’s a win, and wins are hard to come across in the NFL, so just to get that win is exciting.”

Is this a statement win?

“It is,” he said. “No one gave us a chance, but we believed in ourselves. That’s all that really matters. When we step on the field between those white lines, we’re going to play some physical football.”

(photos by Brian Murphy)


the predator

(photo by Brian Murphy)

My next door neighbor is the kind of kid you couldn’t pay to watch football. He’s a high school junior who would much rather play his guitar in his basement than tune in to see who the Redskins are playing, which makes this next statement that much more improbable – this past week he came up to me to inform me that rookie safety Chris Horton is his favorite Redskin.

After getting yelled at by his parents, the kid was seeking refuge at my house, only to discover I was actually at FedEx Field covering the ‘Skins-Saints game. So he sat with my wife and watched the maroon and black defeat New Orleans, thanks in large part to Horton’s two interception, one fumble recovery effort.

“He looks like the Predator,” said neighbor kid. “That hair makes him look like a complete badass.”

And just like that, he actually cares about the Redskins.

For those who may not be familiar with Horton’s background, he’s a 6’1”, 216 lb. safety out of UCLA. The Redskins drafted him in the seventh round (249th pick overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft, meaning he was the tenth and final player Vinny Cerrato selected. You probably had stopped watching the draft long before he was chosen, but don’t feel bad – only three other players heard their names called after Horton was drafted.

So if Horton was able to go from the seventh round to NFC defensive player of the week honors while simultaneously converting new fans after just one start, he’s definitely a player everyone needs to get to know. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Congratulations on being named the NFC defensive player of the week. Aside from the joke Randy Thomas played on you about the $100,000, how good did it feel to earn the honors after your first career start?

“It felt great,” Horton said. “Just sitting there when I was by myself thinking about it, you know, there’s guys that have been in this league a long time that have never been the NFC defensive player of the week. I feel like it’s a great accomplishment.”

Okay, let’s get it out of the way. Go ahead and give me the party line and downplay your accomplishments last week and say, “My teammates made the plays and I was just in the right place at the right time.”

“Oh, that’s what happened,” Horton said with a laugh. “Obviously if those guys wouldn’t have made those plays and gotten their hands on the balls, then I never would have gotten those picks. I just feel like it was me running to the ball and being in the right spot at the right time with those guys making plays. That’s how I was able to get those picks.”

This is the part where I remind you that this defense set a modern-era record for fewest turnovers in a season. They would get their hands on the ball, and for whatever reason they wouldn’t come away with the turnover. Whether you want to downplay it or not, the fact that you’re converting those turnovers is a big deal.

“Any time you can get turnovers it’s a big deal because you get the ball back to your offense and you get more opportunities for them to score,” said Horton, who only had four interceptions during his collegiate career. “Or, as a defender, if you get your hands on the ball like ‘Los [Carlos Rogers] did today, he almost scored.”

So clearly after such a great debut you should have been the starter this week against Arizona, right?

“No, not at all,” Horton said. “Not at all. I know my role on this team. My role is, if anything happens or when we go into extra packages, then I’m in the game. That’s my role. I’m not really concerned with who starts and stuff like that. I’m just going to keep playing and get better every week. Reed [Doughty] does a great job when he’s out there. To me, he’s the starter.”

Redskins fans are just getting to know you. Can you tell them what kind of player you are and what skills you bring to the table?

“You know, I’m going to hit you,” Horton said. “I’m going to get out there and I’m going to cover tight ends, and I’m not going to allow tight ends to catch the ball in the open field. I’m just a physical football player. I put in a lot of time studying the game of football and try to have the least amount of mental mistakes as possible.”

How the heck did you fall to the seventh round of the NFL Draft?

“Hmmm … ask those guys who said I wasn’t good enough to play,” he said. “I don’t really know. I don’t really worry about it now. Those other teams – they’ve got to be concerned when they see number 48 on film because when I show up, I’m gonna make some plays.”

Other teams beware: the Predator is coming to a city near you. All this film is missing is Jesse Ventura saying, “I ain’t got time to bleed” or maybe we’ll settle for Horton picking off Tony Romo this weekend in Dallas. Either way, this has the makings of a classic.

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