Cornerback Christian Morton saw extensive playing time in last year's season finale at Philadelphia, where the Redskins earned themselves a postseason spot with a 31-20 win.
In that game, Morton came up with three tackles for the Washington defense. Besides that, he tied for the team high with three stops on special teams.
Insofar as 2006 is concerned, though, Morton realizes his showing in that game in Philly means little in terms of his chances of sticking with the Redskins. He's working hard in OTAs (Organized Team Activities) at Redskins Park but understands that there are no guarantees.
Morton, a 6-0, 181-pound third-year pro, maintains that playing cornerback in the NFL is a precarious existence.
Says Morton: "People say that if you play corner in the NFL, you're only as good as your last game. Actually, you're only as good as your last play."
He then goes on to discuss former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Everson Walls, who had an outstanding NFL career but will be forever associated with the famous catch made by the 49ers' Dwight Clark in the 1981 NFC championship.
"Everson Walls had 57 interceptions in his career," says Morton. "In that game against San Francisco, he had two interceptions, a fumble recovery, seven or eight tackles. But the only thing people remember is that Dwight Clark catch. Everson Walls had a Hall of Fame career, but no one ever talks about that."
That translates to something like this: Morton knows he can't let his guard down, even in Redskins OTAs and practice sessions. That's why he's so anxious to take in anything Gregg Williams, Jerry Gray or other Redskins coaches have to say in the way of constructive criticism.
"I even eavesdrop when they're talking to Shawn [Springs] or Carlos [Rogers]," says Morton. "I'm one of those guys who thirsts for knowledge. I want to get better. I'm my own toughest critic. I realize this is a great opportunity to learn and improve."
Like newcomer Brandon Lloyd, Morton played his college ball at the University of Illinois. A native of St. Louis, Morton was a seventh-round pick by New England in 2004. He was with the Falcons for parts of his first two seasons in the league and has done practice squad stints in Cleveland and New Orleans.
Morton saw playing time in the 2004 NFC championship game for Atlanta in Philadelphia. Philly won 27-10 in cold temperatures at Lincoln Financial Field. Morton played in a reserve role in the Redskins' 17-10 wild card round win at Tampa Bay last season.
As a high school player at Riverview Gardens in St. Louis, Morton was a quarterback who set Missouri state prep records. He passed for 4,957 yards in his high school career and earned USA Today Missouri Player of the Year honors.
In terms of the highlights of his brief NFL career, Morton says that as a rookie in Atlanta in 2004 he went up against Jerry Rice when Rice was finishing up in Seattle. That, plus the fact that he played approximately 35 snaps in the NFC Championship game versus the Eagles.
Asked to assess his progress in the current round of OTAs, Morton said: "I know I'm working hard and I know I'm learning a great deal. But these coaches do a pretty good job of disguising how they feel about you."