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Arizona's Horton could be future NFL head coach

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Arizona's Horton could be future NFL head coach

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) In a miserable season for his Arizona Cardinals, defensive coordinator Ray Horton is nonetheless a rising star in NFL coaching circles.

Expect Horton to be interviewed for some head coaching positions this offseason. Perhaps even in Arizona, should the Bidwill family decide to fire coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Horton was saying all the right things Friday after the team's final practice of the season.

``I would say today all I'm trying to do today is be the best D-coordinator in the league,'' he said. ``I didn't do it because we didn't accomplish our goals and the rest of that stuff kind of takes care of itself. Usually teams that win more are rewarded that way.''

But he did acknowledge it's every coach's goal to someday get the top job.

``That's what you're trying for,'' he said, ``and if you prepare well you should be ready.''

Last year, after his first season as the Cardinals' defensive coordinator, he was interviewed for the St. Louis job that eventually went to Jeff Fisher. Horton said there's no secret to having a good job interview.

``I think if you're confident in what you do, probably every interview would be good,'' he said. ``I think I'm prepared, smart, knowledgeable, humble and everything that goes along with whatever that entails.''

Horton was an assistant at Pittsburgh when Whisenhunt tabbed him to be Arizona's third defensive coordinator in five years. Horton has a year left on his contract, meaning he couldn't leave for another coordinator's job without the Cardinals' permission. He could, however, leave to take a head coaching job. His players certainly believe in him. Defensive end Calais Campbell says Horton would be an ``awesome'' head coach.

``I wouldn't be surprised if he had a lot of different offers because he's very talented at what he does,'' Campbell said. ``He's smart, he understands the game, he's a great motivational speaker. I think he'll make a great head coach. He has that passion for winning.''

There hasn't been much winning in Arizona, though. The Cardinals, after a 4-0 start, have dropped 10 of 11 and are huge underdogs at San Francisco. The problems almost entirely are the fault of the offense, especially poor play at quarterback. Arizona is starting Brian Hoyer at the position on Sunday less than three weeks after he was picked up on waivers from Pittsburgh.

The defense, on the other hand, ranks 12th in the NFL overall and is third against the pass.

The Cardinals' 22 interceptions are second in the NFL, one behind Chicago. Their 33 takeaways rank fourth in the league. Their opponent passer rating (68.5) is first in the NFL and their opponent completion percentage (54.1) is second only to Houston (53.2). Their 37 sacks are tied for 10th. The defensive superlatives, however, do not include run defense. The Cardinals are 28th in the NFL in that category.

Still, Horton gives his defense a B-plus for its performance.

``Personally I would have liked to have seen a couple of shutouts and maybe a couple of other scoring opportunities that we could have helped the offense,'' he said. ``Probably over the season I'd probably take back no more than five plays, less than a handful, that I would love to call again.''

Horton said there was never a serious rift between the defense and offense, despite the stark differences in the performances of the two units. He credited the makeup of his team.

``They are highly motivated and inspired,'' he said. ``They play for themselves, meaning they have a lot of personal pride in their performance.''

Whisenhunt gave the defense an overall good review.

``You'd have to say the defense has played well,'' he said. ``I mean, we haven't done as good a job against the run game as we need to, but as far as turnovers and keeping us in games and making plays and scoring, the defense has done a great job.''

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10 Questions in 10 days: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart

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10 Questions in 10 days: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart

The Redskins top two linebackers rank among the most productive units in the NFL. When healthy, Mason Foster and Zach Brown are highly efficient tacklers. In fact, Brown led the league in tackles for most of 2017 before his season ended with a foot injury. 

The healthy part is the trick. 

Last year, Foster separated his shoulder against the Rams in Week 2 and was shut down for the season by October. Brown played through nagging injuries all year before shutting things down in December. 

When both players were on the field, the Redskins defense excelled. In just four starts, Foster made 30 tackles to go with an interception, a fumble recovery and half a sack. Brown logged double-digit tackles in nine games last season, and probably would have more without the foot trouble. 

Foster and Brown are very good in the Redskins scheme, and both players are expected to be fully healthy for the start of training camp. Their injuries from last season are not the type that suggest durability concerns, and both players posted full 16-game seasons in 2016.

Foster and Brown aren't the question. The depth chart after Foster and Brown are the question. 

Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight, Josh Harvey-Clemons and rookie Shaun Dion Hamilton are competing for two or possibly three roster spots. 

Spaight is the most recognizable name in the group. He's been a good special teams player for Washington, and is well liked in the locker room. By last December, however, Vigil was playing better football. 

More telling for both Vigil and Spaight was that Harvey-Clemons took the starter reps alongside Foster when Brown was absent during OTAs. The second-year man out of Louisville has more physical gifts than either Vigil or Spaight, and now given a full year to learn to play linebacker, Harvey-Clemons could make inroads.

A safety in college, Harvey-Clemons can run. He was a bit of a surprise last season making the 53-man roster out of camp, so expect him to definitely have a shot this year. 

Hamilton will be the wild card. An ultra-talented player out of Alabama, he dealt with a number of injuries in college. Redskins VP Doug Williams talked gushingly about Hamilton after the draft, and if the former 5-Star recruit can stay healthy, he could certainly push for a spot as well. 

Prior to 2017, the Redskins kept four inside linebackers on their final 53 roster. In 2017, the team kept five: Brown, Foster, Spaight, Will Compton and Harvey-Clemons. Compton left via free agency and is now playing in Nashville. 

Foster and Brown are roster locks, and it seems like Harvey-Clemons gets the third nod. 

Spaight, Vigil and Hamilton better be ready for serious competition in Richmond. 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?

In this week's mailbag podcast, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir answer several questions about the Caps' prospects and Hershey.

How does the future look on the farm? Plus, they talk about potential weaknesses, their biggest surprises and more!

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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