Chris Horton has been slow to return from toe ligament surgery this offseason, and that presents a real challenge for the third-year safety.
With coaches encouraging competition at every position, Horton could find himself a step behind other safeties as they practice a new Redskins defense in OTAs.
Horton trusts that his credentials keep him in the mix, though.
"Returning from an injury is always a little tough," he said. "But I think what I've done when I'm healthy, it speaks for itself. I can't perform if I'm not healthy, and I think that's something everyone realizes...When I'm ready, I'll perform. And you'll know I'm healthy."
Horton welcomes the competition for playing time, too.
He has been competing with Reed Doughty and Kareem Moore for playing time ever since he joined the Redskins as a seventh-round draft pick in 2008.
"Not only is competition good for you, it brings out the best in everyone else," he said.
The concern is that Horton is falling behind in on-field work as coaches install defensive packages in practice.
Horton hopes he has made up for it by being an active participant in the classroom. He has attended every Redskins practice, even though he has been limited in what he can do on the field due to the injury.
In the Redskins' new defense, safeties may be asked to play either strong or free safety at any given time, depending on the play call. Versatility is a must in defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's scheme.
Horton, 6-1 and 211 pounds, has played strong safety in his two years with the Redskins, but he believes he can play free safety as well.
"If you look at most free safeties, their plays are made from the hashes to the numbers, and I think all of us are able and capable to do that," he said.
Horton had hoped to be able to prove his versatility by now.
Recovery from surgery has taken longer than anticipated.
"I'm done with the rehab process, now it's a matter of being able to come out every day and consistently do the same thing over and over again and pound on it," he said. "Right now, it's just not there. Talking to the doctors, they told me I'm going to have those kinds of symptoms for a while, but I'm just trying to come out and continue to work when I can."
Asked when he anticipated being full-go at practice, Horton replied: "Hopefully pretty soon. It's going to take a little time. It was a pretty serious injury. I'm just looking to get the strength back right now."
Horton suffered the injury in Week 10 last season. He finished with 37 tackles, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
As a rookie in 2008, Horton tied with DeAngelo Hall for the team lead with three interceptions and posted 81 tackles, third-most on the team. He earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors in September and was named to Pro Football Weekly's Rookie All-Pro Team.
All of that's in the past, though.
"I feel like I've still got a lot to prove," Horton said. "Last year the injury was unfortunate. I'm just looking forward to getting better, and doing whatever it takes to help this team win. I know I can play this game, even though I haven't played for half a year. My goal is to come back and work the way I worked when I was a rookie."