It wasn’t a padded practice Thursday at Redskins Park, which made it easier for tight end Jordan Reed to join his teammates on the field despite rib and sternum injuries that sidelined him for contract drills the previous day.
That said, when players broke into their position groups for drills after stretching, Jordan joined the wide receivers for pass-catching drills under the supervision of position coach Ike Hilliard rather than work with fellow tight ends on blocking and receiving drills.
“He did more today,” Coach Jay Gruden said of Reed, “so I think the pain is becoming manageable, we hope. We’ll see how he does tomorrow.”
The Redskins would love to have Reed, the linchpin of their passing game, on the field for Sunday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders at FedEx Field. The 6-foot-2, 246-pound tight end was quarterback Kirk Cousins’s most reliable target in last week’s 27-20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, catching all six passes thrown his way. With the passing game not yet clicking, Reed is a welcome security blanket for Cousins, along with Jamison Crowder and third-down back Chris Thompson, as he works to develop a rapport with less familiar receivers Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson.
While both Pryor and Doctson impressed in practice, it hasn’t translated to the more intense, up-tempo game situations. The 6-4 Pryor, the hardest working receiver on the roster, has had seven drops on 15 targets through the Redskins’ firsts two games. Doctson has been targeted just once.
“We’ve got other players, too, that are producing and have been productive, so it’s not like [Doctson is] just going to jump out there and get 80 snaps,” Gruden said Thursday, asked about his sparing use of Doctson, the team’s first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft. “We’ll have some special plays for Josh because he does some special things. Obviously, we haven’t seen him a lot around here as far as on game day, but we’ve seen him out at practice, so there will be some instances where we try to get him the ball.”
With the passing game a work in progress, the Redskins leaned heavily on the run in upsetting the Rams Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. A key to its success (229 yards on 39 carries), Gruden noted earlier in the week, was the blocking help from tight ends.
“[Reed] was outstanding in blocking,” Gruden said. “[He] had a key block on the touchdown Chris Thompson had on the second series of the game, was physical and did a great job.”
For the ground game to thrive going forward, Gruden expects more blocking help from Redskins receivers — something that speedster DeSean Jackson, for example, had little interest in doing the last two seasons.
“The backs, Chris Thompson, they do a great job on play actions and the drop backs and protecting for [the receivers] when they run routes, so it’s important for them to return the favor in the running game,” Gruden said. “We have big guys. Crowder (5-9, 177) plays big. Despite his stature, he’s a good blocker. So all those guys are expected to block and will block on my watch.”
Others limited in practice Thursday: Linebacker Mason Foster (shoulder), running back Rob Kelley (ribs); right tackle Morgan Moses (ankle, shoulder), safety Montae Nicholson (shoulder) and cornerback Josh Norman (shoulder)
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