Jay Gruden’s Impassioned Defense of Jordan Reed

WASHINGTON — Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden doesn’t like when people call tight end Jordan Reed “injury prone,” but had a hard time separating the label from his player.

“I just hate that people sometimes label him as ‘injury prone.’ It’s just ‘unlucky,'” Gruden insisted in his Wednesday press conference. “He had a bad toe coming into camp, and I think that with that bad toe, he just put too much weight on the other leg and I think that’s affected his hamstring.”

It’s not a criticism to observe that Reed, while playing at the physical position of tight end, has suffered injuries that have affected this and every other season. In five NFL seasons, Reed has never played more than 14 games. Since signing a $50 million extension in May of 2016, he has played just 18 of the team’s 28 games since.

But Gruden views instances of injuries as a series of unrelated, unfortunate events. So what is the difference between injury prone and unlucky?

“Availability and durability,” Gruden said. “If you’re available every week then you’re not [injury prone]. If you’re not [available], sometimes you get that label, unfortunately. It’s no fault of the player, it’s just a physical game and guys are going to get injured.

“It’s unfortunate that, it’s happened to Jordan, and he’s doing everything right.”

That difference is certainly nuanced.

What is easier to grasp, however, is that his sustained absence has a dampening effect on the entire team.

“The big thing is to get him back to healthy, whether that’s this week, next week, the week after or in the offseason,” Gruden said. “We need him to get well for the good of this team.”

Gruden refuted an earlier Adam Schefter report that Reed would not play Sunday. He said that decision was likely the case, but not set in stone:

He also confirmed that the team has not yet considered placing Reed on injured reserve.

If Reed is done for the season, it will be his worst statistical output in all major categories except touchdowns (two). He is still a major part of this team’s offense. He is still a dynamic threat in the NFL. But he has to get healthy.

“What do you want me to say?” Gruden answered for how he would summarize Reed’s season. “He hasn’t been out there the last four, five, six weeks. He’s been incomplete, I guess. It’s unfortunate.”


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