Former Redskins player promoted to Ravens' special teams coordinator

Brian Tinsman
March 21, 2019 - 9:09 pm

Remember Chris Horton? Eleven years ago, the Washington Redskins drafted him out of UCLA with the 249th overall pick.

He started 10 games at safety that season, making 76 tackles and snagging four takeaways. In his first NFL start, he had three takeaways and earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He looked like a late-round steal that could play alongside LaRon Landry on the back end of the defense for years to come.

His rookie campaign ended up being his best season.

In 2009, he started just five games, shifting to a bigger role on special teams and a smaller role on defense. In 2010, he appeared in seven games with zero starts, getting most of his work on special teams. He failed to make the team out of training camp in 2011 and officially called it quits in 2012.

That's when his career really took off.

He joined the Ravens coaching staff, first as an intern, and later as a special teams assistant in 2015. With specialists like Justin Tucker and Sam Koch, the Ravens have had one of the best specialist tandems in the NFL. Horton was there to help make sure their coverage unit matched the effort.

"I was once asked, 'Why special teams, of all phases? Why not defense?'" Horton told the Ravens website. "My answer was that special teams is made up of special players. It takes unselfish players to go out there and play one play and give all you’ve got for one play."

It's that perspective that endeared Horton to his employer, and why, when long-time special teams coach Jerry Rosburg announced his retirement last week, the Ravens turned to Horton to take over the unit.

"Chris played the game the right way when he was a player, and he is going to continue to coach the game the right way as he takes over the special teams," Rosburg said during his retirement press conference. "For the past four years, Chris Horton has been a skilled, diligent, faithful assistant and been very important in our success.

"He has shown a great deal of initiative that led to improvements in our systems and improvements in our players. He has an excellent rapport with our players. It’s now his time."

If the Redskins take on the Ravens in this year's preseason, keep an eye out for Horton on the sidelines. He cut the signature dreadlocks he had as a player, but the enthusiasm he had as a player translates to his job as a coach.

"I can guarantee when you watch the Ravens’ specials teams play, that’s still going to be what we stand on each and every week," he said. "It’s my job to come in here and get the most out of the guys and uphold the standard."

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