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Need to Know: Redskins' Jordan Reed off to a hot start

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jordan Reed off to a hot start

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, September 28, six days before the Redskins host the Eagles.

Jordan Reed off to a hot start

The Redskins are getting what they need out of Jordan Reed.

Going into yesterday’s games, the third-year tight end led the NFL with 14 receptions for first downs (having played three games with most of the rest of the pass catchers having played two). He has 19 receptions for 241 yards and a touchdown. Over a 16-game season those numbers project to 101 catches for 1,285 yards and five touchdowns.

Reed and Kirk Cousins got together for what was perhaps the team’s most important play so far this season. With the Redskins leading the Rams by just a touchdown and facing third and four in their own territory midway through the fourth quarter. Reed ran an option pattern down the middle, Cousins hit him with a perfect pass and the Redskins had a first down in Rams territory. The went on to score the clinching touchdown.

Reed had a chance to make a couple of other important plays last Thursday against the Giants. Twice in the first half, when the game was still competitive, he beat his defender in the end zone. But Cousins was not as sharp has he had been just a few days earlier and he underthrew both passes. Instead of the score being 15-6 at halftime it could have been 15-14.

And he has improved his weakest area on the field, blocking. “You saw Jordan Reed I think had his best game as a tight end as a blocker by far that I’ve been with him,” said Jay Gruden after the Rams game. “He’s starting to buy in obviously which is huge. They understand that it’s going to open up everything else down the road for us. So far everything has been positive.”

I know exactly what the readers here are thinking—as long as he stays healthy, he’s great. But he can’t stay on the field.

And that’s fair. Going into this season he had been on the Redskins’ roster for 32 games. And he was either on injured reserve or listed on the injury report for 17 of them, over half.

Then when he missed a good chunk of training camp and all but one preseason game with a hamstring, it was “here we go again”. He made it through the season opener but in practice for Week 2 he suffered a pulled quad that had him questionable for the Rams game.

When asked how Reed suffered the injury, Jay Gruden simply said, “Running,” in an exasperated tone of voice. The head coach seemed to be in the “here we go again” frame of mind, too.

But he played against the Rams with no apparent ill effects with six receptions on six targets for 82 yards, including the key play noted above. And he played well four days later against the Giants.

Of course, three games played constitute baby steps. There is still a long way to go. Sometimes players go through their careers an have difficulty staying on the field. Others might start out perpetually injured and then learn how to take care of their bodies better. We will see where Reed falls in that spectrum. In the meantime, he should continue to help the Redskins’ offense.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:45 a.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 12:45

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Falcons 13; Redskins @ Jets 20

 

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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot),
Thursday injury report

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

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A little more left arm use by Reed on this catch. #Redskins

A video posted by Rich (@richtandler) on

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Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

The Redskins’ injury report is looking a little better today, three days away from their game against the Eagles. 

DE Chris Baker (ankle), CB Will Blackmon (concussion), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), C Spencer Long (concussion) didn't practice today. That is a substantial reduction of the number of players who were out of practice on Wednesday.

Going from out yesterday to limited participants today were S Donte Whitner (illness), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), and DE Anthony Lanier (leg).

Also limited were TE Derek Carrier (knee), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and OLB Preston Smith (groin).

A player moving from out of practice to limited is no guarantee that he will be able to participate come Sunday but it’s a step in the right direction.

On area of concern is the offensive line. Three players who started against the Cardinals have not practiced this week. One was Nsekhe and he already was headed to the bench after the return of Trent Williams from suspension.

RELATED: Five Redskins who need to perform vs. Eagles

According to Jay Gruden, the line will have enough bodies even if Long, Nsekhe, and Lauvao are out. Second year guard Arie Kouandjio would start at guard and John Sullivan, who finished up after Long left the game on Sunday, would be the starting center. They could activate Kory Lichtensteiger from injured reserve to back up guard and center and Vinston Painter would be the backup tackle.

It appears that Reed is making progress from the AC joint separation he suffered in his left shoulder on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

“He looked good out there today,” said Gruden. “He’s still a little sore. Right now I have absolutely no idea (if he will play).”