- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2017

ASHBURN – The Redskins began their week of practice ahead of Monday night’s tilt in Kansas City Thursday, and tight end Jordan Reed was still limited by the chest/sternum injury he suffered on Sept. 17 in Los Angeles.

Washington is playing the percentages with its star tight end. Last week, coach Jay Gruden said that he’d have to figure out if 70 percent of Reed was better than 100 percent of rookie Jeremy Sprinkle. Reed wound up inactive against the Raiders, with Sprinkle playing for the first time but with Vernon Davis filling in on the majority of snaps for Reed.

On Thursday, Gruden wasn’t sure if that 70 percent he’d assigned to Reed last week has changed.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “We will see. He felt better today, did more team stuff today. But we will have to wait and see. So I don’t know.”

Reed, however, said that he feels healthier and stronger than he did this time last week, and that he expects to play against the Chiefs.

“Some time went by and the injury severity went down some, the pain went down and things like that, I got some strength back in my chest and things,” Reed said.

The chest/sternum injury is what’s limiting him, not the persistent big toe problems that kept him out for most of training camp and the preseason, and not the AC joint sprain he also got against the Rams.

The main issue is pain management, not because Reed can’t play through pain, but because pain itself can change how a player cuts or make him hesitant to deliver a block.

“Yeah, strength, and it’s just functionality through the pain and things like that,” Reed said. “You know, pain, discomfort, causes dysfunction in your muscles and things like that. Things don’t fire the same way and all that so I wouldn’t have been 100 percent.”

That’s why the Redskins decided that, in terms of who was active, 100 percent of Sprinkle was better than 70 percent of Reed.

If they decided that again on Monday, then Reed would end up having three weeks off from game action because of the Redskins’ Week 5 bye. Then again, it’s easier to ask a bit more of a player when there’s rest coming in any case.

“Yeah, that or you play him and he gets two weeks rest, right? So, either way. We have a bye week,” Gruden said, chuckling.

Because of his extensive injury history, Reed is accustomed to gauging how much he could do on a given day. Toward the end of last season, when Reed was dealing with a concussion and an AC joint sprain, he needed to play against the Panthers in Washington’s critical Week 14 game, but struggled blocking while Carolina clearly targeted him.

“During those games I had to be out there, it was crunch time, right now it’s one of those things where I can be healthy and take a little bit more time and that’s what I did last week,” Reed said.

Week 14 is definitely different than Week 3, though the Raiders game was an important and difficult one to keep Reed out of. It was hard to predict that Davis would make five catches on five targets for 58 yards and that the blocking by tight ends and running backs would be the best it has been for the Redskins all season.

“It was a smarter thing to let them go out there and ball out,” Reed said.

“I need to be able to run block and run routes and if I can’t do one or the other it’s going to be a one-dimensional thing and it’s going to hurt our team.”

• Nora Princiotti can be reached at nprinciotti@washingtontimes.com.

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