Jordan Reed doesn’t need to be told. He knows. The Redskins tight end’s frustration was written on his face following Wednesday’s practice, another in which he did not participate.
“It’s been a rough year, to say the least,” he said.
Reed will likely miss his sixth straight game when Washington faces the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday because of a lingering hamstring injury that has had multiple setbacks over the past month. The injury is the byproduct of a toe injury Reed suffered during the offseason that kept him out of training camp and forced him to miss a game during the season’s first month.
Considered one of the best receiving tight ends in the game when healthy, Reed will miss his seventh game if he’s inactive against the Chargers — the most since his rookie season. With three games left, there is no indication from either Reed or Redskins Coach Jay Gruden that the team will place him on injured reserve, but there isn’t a timeline for his return either.
“This is the most challenging time for me right now in my life, pretty much,” Reed said. “I’ve had pretty challenging times in my life coming to this point that I think have strengthened me to where I can get through this right now.”
Reed said it’s been difficult both on and off the field, the latter of which he declined to discuss. In his fifth year, injuries have prevented Reed from playing an entire 16-game season. In 2015, Reed posted 952 yards and 11 touchdowns across 14 games, all career highs. The 27-year-old has missed at least four games in four of his five NFL seasons, which Reed said was a result of his playing style he has since attempted to adjust.
“I wasn’t playing the smartest, if you would say [early in my career],” Reed said. “I was jumping, diving and leaving my body open all the time. It takes a toll on you, man. After learning that kind of stuff, you learn you got to play smart to be available. That’s what I’m looking forward to being when I come back.”
This offseason Reed bulked up and arrived in Richmond in fantastic shape. But he believes he overworked himself in the process, which caused the toe injury that landed him on the physically unable to perform list.
Reed received a custom-made orthotic insert to give extra cushioning for his big toe and started in the season opener, but he was never fully healthy. Just as he started to regain confidence in his body following a two-touchdown performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, Reed suffered the hamstring injury the following week.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Gruden said. “Jordan is a big-time player for us and when he’s not out there, it has an effect on what we do. … I just hate that people sometimes label him as injury-prone. It’s just unlucky. He had a bad toe coming into camp, and then I think with that bad toe, he’s tried to just put too much weight on the other leg, and I think that’s affected his hamstring. Big thing is to get him back to healthy — whether it’s this week, next week or the week after, or in the offseason.”
Reed’s belief aligns with Gruden’s, that the hamstring injury has been unlucky and caused by overcompensating for his toe injury. Given the multiple setbacks, Reed and the team have decided to slow down his recovery process. He did some on-field work during Monday’s practice, but was held out Wednesday.
“Injuries suck, and injuries remind you that this is real life,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “Watching [Reed] having to fight through and suffer setback after setback, it’s frustrating for us. It’s a Pro Bowl talent that we don’t have on the field. All of these close games that we go into, we need everything we can get. Having a guy like Jordan not there with us, it really hurts.”
Reed, who has 27 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns, hasn’t entertained the thought of shutting down his season yet. His priority is to get his body healthy, however long it takes.
In the interim, he is counting his blessings and taking comfort where he can — particularly in his family and two young daughters — to help him get through the physical and mental tolls of this year, always with a mind toward getting back on the field to chase his dreams and goals.
“I’m just going to keep getting stronger from this stuff,” Reed said. “That’s all you can do.”