Throughout the Redskins first four games of the 2015 season, the importance of tight end Jordan Reed showed on every offensive drive. A big body with great hands and an ability to get open, Reed became a quick favorite of QB Kirk Cousins, especially on third downs.
Sunday, Reed sustained a concussion, his second in his three-year Redskins career and his fourth since his college days at Florida. Considering the frequency of concussions for Reed, as well as the extended absence Reed took after a concussion his rookie season (he missed the final six games of that season), it's fair to wonder if Washington must look ahead to Atlanta and beyond without Reed in the lineup.
Now in the NFL's concussion protocol, Reed will face a series of examinations and tests before he can get back on the field. What the Redskins must consider is a way to replace his impressive production. In four games Reed has hauled in 24 catches for 278 yards and a touchdown, tied for the team lead in catches and leading the team in receiving yards.
The Redskins have already lost a number of starters to injury, and head coach Jay Gruden has been impressed with his team's resiliency. Assuming Reed will miss time with the concussion, Gruden will be forced to turn to Derek Carrier at tight end. The Redskins traded for Carrier for depth at the position in training camp when both Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen were lost for the season with injuries. The Redskins are in a unique spot, as no position on the field has been hit as hard by the injury bug as tight end.
For his part, Carrier has shown flashes of ability. He's grabbed four catches for 26 yards; no other tight end on the roster has a single catch.
It's also possible the Redskins could try to bring fullback Darrel Young back into the offense if Reed misses time. Young has shown an ability to catch the ball in space, and is big enough to provide help blocking blitzing linebackers. Another angle to consider, especially on the heels of yesterday's offensive outburst, is the Redskins give Chris Thompson more opportunities and lineup in more shotgun looks.
No matter how you slice it, if Reed misses time it's a big blow to the Redskins. And considering the concussion history, it's likely he will miss some time.
How will the Redskins cope with the loss of Reed? Let us know what you think in the comments.