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Doughty Learning Ups, Downs of NFL Game

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For young players like Reed Doughty, Saturday's scrimmage versus the Baltimore Ravens must have seemed like culture shock.

Doughty, the rookie safety out of Division 1-AA Northern Colorado, looked out at FedExField on Saturday afternoon and saw 47,258 fans in the stands.

"That's the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of," the 6-1, 213-pound safety said. "I don't think any of us expected that many people for a scrimmage.

"My first taste of the NFL, and then to play in front of a crowd like that? It was something special. I'll tell you what: They'll let you know how you're doing."

So will Redskins coaches at this time of the year. Any time a young player starts to feel that he's accomplished something, they'll put the young player in his place.

It's known as getting an NFL education. Doughty went through some of it on Saturday.

Selected by the Redskins in the sixth round (173rd overall) last spring, Doughty is trying to make the club as a backup safety and special teams player. He's shown some skills in training camp at Redskins Park, but his first go-around versus an NFL opposing team was a mixed bag.

Although it's hard to gauge a rookie's progress on the basis of a controlled scrimmage, it's safe to say that Doughty struggled early on in Saturday's drills--particularly on special teams--before settling down to show flashes of solid play.

"What I learned is that if you make a mistake at this level, you had better be able to show that you can fix it. And I'm talking about on the next play," Doughty said. "My first 10 plays, to be honest, I thought I struggled. But after that, I feel as though I caught on to the flow of the scrimmage.

"What I really need to work on is my special teams play. I try to follow the lead of Rock [Cartwright] in that respect. He's so good on special teams. He can tell you what it's all about. I need to try to work my way up to his level of play. That's one of my goals."

The Redskins have lost a pair of veteran safeties from last year's team, namely Ryan Clark (to Pittsburgh) and Matt Bowen (to Buffalo).

Young players such as Doughty, Curry Burns and Dennard Wilson are in the mix and hoping to win jobs behind Sean Taylor, Adam Archuleta and Pierson Prioleau.

Says Doughty: "We all realize there are no assurances. I'm hoping my first year in the league is one in which I learn something every day and show progress every day."

Taylor and Marcus Washington dazzled the crowd with their big hits and big plays. That was obvious. What's less apparent is the progress a young player like Reed Doughty may have made in his first exposure to an NFL arena.

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