DALLAS - Jordan Reed has had bigger statistical games than he did against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but not by much. More importanly than statistics, however, is that Reed posted the bulk of his 95 yards and both of his touchdowns while playing with a seperated shoulder.
Read that again: Reed scored two TDs while playing with a separated shoulder. In just his fourth year in the NFL, Reed has already established himself as a top three tight end, but on Thursday, he played the best game of his career.
In the locker room after the game, Reed was in visible pain. When he spoke with reporters, he described the pain as "severe" and said all he could do was "block it out" to get back on the field.
Redskins players and coaches were surprised Reed came back into the game after coming down hard on the shoulder early in the second quarter.
"I was a little bit surprised. He can’t watch, he wants to play. That has always been his approach," Kirk Cousins said of his tight end. "He’s a great player. I was happy he came back, but I told him you know, you have got a lot of great years of football left, so let’s not waste future years for one or two games. He’s a fighter."
Washington head coach Jay Gruden echoed his QB's comments.
"I'm really impressed with Jordan," Gruden said. "I didn’t think he’d come back – but he came back and made some huge plays for us."
Speaking with somebody close to the team, it seems highly likely Reed will be forced to play through the pain of the sprained AC joint for the remainder of the season. The team can attempt to manage the pain on game days, but the injury requires long periods of rest, something that is hard to find for a Redskins team fighting for a Wild Card playoff berth.
Early in his career, Reed dealt with a number of injuries. He's yet to play a full season, and he's already missed two games this year. Along the way, in some circles the tight end developed a reputation of being fragile.
Reed's play Sunday dismisses that notion, completely. Even Gruden did not expect his tight end to be able to go in the second half against Dallas.
"There was doubt, yes. There was very much doubt," Gruden said of Reed's return. "In fact, I didn’t think he’d come back in but Jordan, he came back in and made some gigantic plays for us. It just goes to show you what type of man he’s growing into, and football player, and person."