Tight end Reed’s sea­son filled with frus­tra­tion and bril­liance.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOMMY CHALK

In a sea­son of ups and downs, there are three im­ages from Mon­day night’s loss to the Carolina Pan­thers that sym­bol­ize the frus­tra­tion and pain of Wsh­ing­ton Redskins tight end Jor­dan Reed’s year.

One snap­shot is of Reed ly­ing on the turf, clearly hurt­ing after be­ing hit un­ex­pect­edly on the sep­a­rated shoul­der he in­jured against the Dal­las Cow­boys three weeks ago. Reed was block­ing on a run­ning play be­fore Pan­thers safety Tre Bos­ton popped him on the shoul­der, drop­ping him to the ground. The next im­age is of Reed mak­ing his lone catch of the night, a six-yard grab that im­me­di­ately re­sulted in the 26-year-old toss­ing the ball down in dis­com­fort. The fi­nal im­age is of a fed-up Reed throw­ing a punch into the face mask of Pan­thers safety Kurt Cole­man, then ap­pear­ing to square up with line­backer Thomas Davis Sr.

Reed was im­me­di­ately tossed from the game.

“He lost his cool. It hap­pens, man,” Redskins of­fen­sive tackle Trent Wil­liams said (Reed was not seen in the locker room fol­low­ing the game). “Foot­ball is an emo­tional sport.”

Mon­day’s mis­ad­ven­tures were the lat­est low­lights in what has been a roller­coaster year for Reed, filled with amaz­ing highs — he was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team Tues­day — and head­scratch­ing lows, like Mon­day’s ejec­tion.

The ride be­gan in earnest on May 5, when Reed signed a five-year, $46.75 mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion that kicks in next sea­son with $22 mil­lion guar­an­teed. Reed earned that lu­cra­tive deal after record­ing 952 re­ceiv­ing yards in just 14 games with the Redskins in the 2015 sea­son. That to­tal set a Redskins’ sin­gle­sea­son tight end record, pass­ing Chris Coo­ley’s 849 yards in 2010.

Reed’s 87 re­cep­tions also set a team mark for tight ends.

The start of this sea­son looked, ini­tially, like a con­tin­u­a­tion of the pro­lific 2015 cam­paign that had earned him the big money. By Week 3, Reed al­ready had 16 re­cep­tions for 190 yards. Week 4 fea­tured a nine-re­cep­tion ef­fort for 73

yards and two touch­downs against the Cleve­land Browns. In that game, Reed also be­came the fastest tight end in NFL his­tory to record 200 ca­reer re­cep­tions, do­ing so in just 38 games.

Through Week 5, Reed was Kirk Cousins’ fa­vorite tar­get. Cousins threw to Reed 46 times, with the tight end haul­ing in 33 for 316 yards.

But with Week 5 came the re­turn of nag­ging ques­tions about the four-year vet­eran’s dura­bil­ity.

Against the Bal­ti­more Ravens, Reed caught a pass in the third quar­ter and was hit in the back of the head. Reed im­me­di­ately knew he was con­cussed, but hid the symp­toms from his team doc­tors. He ex­pe­ri­enced headaches through­out the re­main­der of the game, yet con­tin­ued to play. It was at least the sixth known con­cus­sion Reed has suf­fered.

“I got to take care of my fam­ily, so I got to do what I got to do,” Reed said.

Reed is guar­an­teed $22 mil­lion from his con­tract re­gard­less of whether he plays or not, but like all NFL play­ers, he knows that his fu­ture earn­ing power de­pends on his abil­ity to stay on the field. One of the big­gest reser­va­tions the Redskins had about of­fer­ing Reed the new con­tract was whether the for­mer Florida quar­ter­back has the dura­bil­ity to sur­vive in the mid­dle of the field.

He missed the next two games — a win against the Philadel­phia Ea­gles and a loss to the Detroit Li­ons — be­fore em­phat­i­cally re­turn­ing against the Cincinnati Ben­gals in Lon­don, record­ing nine re­cep­tions for 99 yards and a touch­down.

Reed en­joyed two more pro­duc­tive games be­fore a Thanks­giv­ing Day ef­fort against the Dal­las Cow­boys. In the sec­ond quar­ter, Reed went down hard on his shoul­der in the cor­ner of the end zone, briefly ex­it­ing the game. At that point dur­ing the game, Reed had just two catches for 15 yards. He would later re­turn, adding eight re­cep­tions for 80 yards and two touch­downs.

In the locker room post game, Reed was seen get­ting help from his team­mates just to take off his shirt. He had a Redskins’ staffer help him put a new one on, gri­mac­ing with ev­ery slight tug.

Later, coach Jay Gru­den would re­veal that Reed suf­fered his Grade 3 AC joint sepa­ra­tion.

He sat out one game be­fore be­ing eased back into the lineup against the Ea­gles in Week 14. He was tar­geted just once, clearly still lim­ited with his in­jury.

By the fate­ful Week 15 matchup against the Pan­thers, Reed was still no­tice­ably not him­self, and after ap­pear­ing to be ex­as­per­ated with his shoul­der and the hits from the Pan­thers, he took him­self out of the game with a sin­gle punch.

“I think some of his frus­tra­tions, he gave into his frus­tra­tions and he threw a punch and got ejected and cost us big time,” Gru­den said. “In­stead of sec­ond and goal at the nine, we got sec­ond and 25 at the 25. So I think he’s frus­trated.”

The Redskins haven’t up­dated the sta­tus on Reed’s shoul­der since, but Gru­den said even an in­jured Reed makes could be a dif­fer­ence maker when the Redskins play the Bears in Chicago on Satur­day.

“He’s such a fac­tor .... even if he’s banged up a lit­tle bit, I think there’s some things that he can do in the pass­ing game that can help us, so long as we have the spot avail­able,” Gru­den said Tues­day. “But if he did rein­jure it — he went down a lit­tle bit yes­ter­day — if he rein­jured it and it’s hold­ing him back quite a bit, then there could be thought to that. But right now the plan is to dress him and use him the best way we can.”

The Redskins’ play­off hopes are slim al­ready, but they’re nonex­is­tent with a loss on Satur­day.

“I think he’s ob­vi­ously has the mak­ings and all the tools to be one of the best tight ends in the league, it’s just we’ve got to get him healthy,” Gru­den said. “And hope­fully with an­other week of rest and re­hab, he’ll be stronger for Chicago.”

REDSKINS AT BEARS Satur­day: 1 p.m. TV: Fox

Ra­dio: 980 AM wash­ing­ton­times.com /sports

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