Posted on September 10, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Washington Redskins are expecting big things from tight end Jordan Reed this season. Reed has established himself as one of the top playmaking tight ends in the NFL, receiving his first invitation to the Pro Bowl last season. However, on the eve of the 2017 season kicking off, there are reports that Reed may have an injury that could hinder his performance this year. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com is reporting that Reed has a broken big toe.
It’s important to note that Reed was not listed on Washington’s Week 1 injury report. However, he’s spent the entire preseason battling a mysterious toe injury. According to Rapoport’s sources, the mystery ailment is a fracture to his big toe. Such an injury could potentially linger throughout the first part of the season and become problematic for both Reed and the Redskins.
Over the summer, Reed received stem-cell treatments for what was being called a sprained big toe. The injury flared up after that, forcing him to the physically unable to perform list. At the time, Reed also had a sprained ankle that may have been the result of compensating for the injured toe. He didn’t return from the PUP list until August 20. When he returned, Reed was wearing a larger pair of cleats that included an orthotic to help provide additional support for his big toe. The hope is that will be enough to allow him to play until the toe can heal.
Reed’s importance to the Washington offense can’t be understated. Over the past three seasons, he’s become the favorite target of Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. In his first four NFL seasons, Reed has caught 20 touchdown passes and accumulated over 2,600 yards, doing most of that damage over the last two seasons. He’s likely to remain the preferred target of Cousins in the season ahead.
However, Reed has also been hindered by injuries throughout his career. In four seasons, he’s never been able to play a full 16-game season. Last year, Reed missed time at different points in the season because of a concussion and a shoulder injury. But this time, he’s hoping to play through the injury.
Reed played in just one preseason game, making two catches for 12 yards. It’s difficult to say just how much the toe issue is affecting him. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a noticeable difference between Reed when he’s been healthy and a Reed that’s fighting an injury, especially one that could alter the way he runs and makes cuts.
If Reed turns out to be limited by his broken toe, Washington’s backup tight ends are Vernon Davis and Niles Paul. Davis had a productive season as Reed’s backup last season, catching 44 passes for 583 yards. But he’s also 33 years old and on the backside of his career. Paul has been a non-factor the past two seasons. But he did catch 39 passes for over 500 yards for the Redskins in 2014.
Davis and Niles should prove to be suitable backups if Reed ends up missing time again this season. For the moment, he appears to be willing to give it his best effort. But if he’s playing with a broken toe, it’s hard to believe that Reed will be at his best this season.