- The Washington Times - Monday, November 28, 2016

When the Washington Redskins took the practice field Monday, the man who is arguably the league’s best tight end stood on the sidelines, watching drills while bundled up in a hoodie against the cold.

Jordan Reed suffered a Grade 3 AC joint separation in the Redskins loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Reed went down in the end zone in the second quarter of the game in pain. At that point, he had just two catches for 15 yards.

Amazingly, Reed would return to the game to pull down another eight receptions for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Reed was seen in the post-game locker room grimacing as a teammate helped him take his shirt off and as an equipment manager helped put a new one on. After Monday’s practice, Reed was able to put on his Space Jam jersey without help — though he’s still not without pain. 

“[I] Probably [have] like 30 percent range of motion right now,” Reed said Monday. “It just happened, so it’s going to be a little tender right now.”

Reed, who missed weeks 6 and 7 with a concussion, isn’t the only Redskins tight end battling injuries. Niles Paul saw his season end on Nov. 7 when he was placed on the injured reserve list with a labrum injury that required surgery, while Derek Carrier was finally activated from the physically unable to perform list on Nov. 12 after rehabbing an ACL and MCL tear for the last year.

A big chunk of the Redskins attack depends on the position. Reed is the most targeted player by quarterback Kirk Cousins on the team, hauling in a team-leading 59 receptions for 630 yards and five touchdowns, and his backup, Vernon Davis, has 31 for 450 yards and two touchdowns.

To put into perspective how much coach Jay Gruden’s offense revolves around production from the tight end, compare the Redskins’ Reed and Davis to New England’s duo of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. The Patriots’ dynamic set of tights ends, considered among the league’s best, has 23 fewer receptions, the exact same yardage and the exact same number of touchdowns. At the other extreme, the New York Jets’ tight ends collectively have just seven receptions for 53 yards and zero touchdowns.

Reed came back into the game against Dallas because he recognizes his importance. The 26-year-old said that he was originally diagnosed with his injury in the second quarter, and he didn’t further damage it by playing in the game. So, while his mobility wasn’t fully there, his role still was.

“Just being there for my teammates,” Reed said of why he chose to play despite the pain. “They trust me to be available in certain situations and I got a chance to make plays. With all that going through my mind, I wanted to be out there.”

Reed stressed that he doesn’t believe his shoulder will require surgery, and he also doesn’t believe he can hurt it anymore by playing. He said that all that it will require is ice and the proper general care. The key is to gain more range of motion within his shoulder.

Reed isn’t the only Redskins’ ball hawk dealing with a shoulder issue. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been sore since at least Oct. 19. Occasionally, the injury keeps him out of practice. But Jackson said that once he starts playing, he doesn’t notice — it’s just something he will have to deal with the rest of the season.

“It’s an injury that’s really not going to get better while we’re playing,” Jackson said.

Jackson said he knows exactly what Reed is going through.

“Pain in the butt, man,” Jackson said. “It’s a tough injury, bro. I wish him the best.”

Reed’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals will become more clear during the ongoing week. Each day will offer Reed a chance to test out his range of motion, but, for now, he’s taking it easy.

“Day by day right now,” Reed said.

 

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