by Rick Snider

Jordan Reed is hurt again. Maybe a big toe sprain isn’t a big deal, maybe it is.

But the Washington Redskins have a problem with perhaps their most talented player. Can they trust the tight end to stay healthy?

Reed has missed 18 of 64 career games. That’s one of four seasons. Five areas of his body have been hurt, including five concussions, sprained AC joint and knee, thigh and hamstring problems. Essentially, he’s a mess at age 27 and an example of why NFL careers are short.

That Reed battled back from a sprained AC joint in midseason last year was impressive. That’s an incredibly painful injury that has sidelined many tough players.

But Reed has never played 16 games in a season. He managed 12 last year for 66 catches after 87 receptions in 14 games in 2015. There’s no doubt of Reed’s talent, but the team has needed to hedge over the years by adding a solid receiver/blocker as more than an emergency fill-in. Vernon Davis returns for a second year after a solid season as Reed’s backup. But in the end, Washington carries four tight ends instead of three partly because of Reed’s uncertainty.

Coach Jay Gruden is once more being careful with Reed, who entered training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Maybe it’s just a week off, perhaps several. There should be sufficient time to recover from the offseason injury before the season opens on Sept. 10, but toe injuries have a tendency to not only linger, but hamper a player’s cutting ability on routes.

“We’re going to take it slow with Jordan,” Gruden said. “We want to make sure he’s 100 percent before we got him going. He’s going to get some upper body work going and as soon as he gets healthy we’ll let him go.”

Reed attended only the mandatory minicamp, instead training away from Redskins Park. He was fine at minicamp in June.

“I think it was just a gradual thing,” Gruden said. “I think he was trying to compensate for his sore toe and he turned his ankle once. I think we just want to make sure we got him right. He looked so good at mandatory training camp and then during the offseason he went down to Miami a little bit and was training and just had a little, small issue with it. You know, we don’t want to push him.”

After all, Reed is the key to the passing game, by drawing added defenders to permit single coverage on receivers, while also being a default option by quarterback Kirk Cousins. The only question is for how long?

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.


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