Despite missing the final six games of his rookie season as he dealt with the effects of a concussion, Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed said Thursday he believes the incident was “a fluke thing” and has no concern about his well-being going forward.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen again,” Reed said after the Redskins wrapped up their final practice of their first week of organized team activities at Redskins Park. “I don’t think it’s going to be something that I’m going to have to deal with my whole career.”
Reed, who had two concussions while in college, last played for the Redskins in a road loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 17. He sustained the concussion in the first half, and after returning to the sidelines with his team after halftime, he abruptly turned around and retreated to the locker room.
After being diagnosed with a concussion, Reed attempted to play the following week against the San Francisco 49ers, and again a week after that against the New York Giants, before coming to terms with the severity of the injury.
“Some games, I wasn’t being completely honest in telling them how bad [the symptoms] were, so that was kind of why I was able to come back [to practice] and then getting kicked out again,” Reed said.
For Reed, those symptoms included severe headaches in the morning and at night, nausea, and an inability to sleep.
“I started to get a little scared after about two months – like, ‘Maybe I’m going to be like this forever,’ or something like that,” Reed said. “But it ended up going away.”
Reed, 23, couldn’t specify when the symptoms subsided, but that he was cleared by the team’s medical staff to return to football-related activities and worked out in Miami for two months before the Redskins began their offseason workout program in early April.
He put together a strong rookie season in 2013, albeit one marred by health issues. He missed a portion of the Redskins‘ offseason workouts a year ago because he struggled to recover after straining his left quadriceps and bruising his left knee late in his final season at Florida.
Reed also bruised his right foot during training camp, bruised his right quadriceps in a home loss to the Detroit Lions on Sept. 22 and sustained a right hip pointer in a home victory over the Chicago Bears on Oct. 20.
With concussion symptoms persisting, Washington finally put Reed on injured reserve on Dec. 20, though he hadn’t played in over a month. He finished his rookie year with 45 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns.
“It was tough,” Reed said. “It was a hard time for me in my life. It was tough not being out there with the team when we were struggling and things like that. It was pretty hard.”
Reed took over as the team’s primary receiving tight end midway through the year and quickly built a rapport with quarterback Robert Griffin III. He had nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown in the victory over the Bears and had eight catches for 90 yards a week later in a road loss to the Denver Broncos.
A quarterback-turned-wide receiver-turned-tight end in college, Reed was raw as a rookie and occasionally struggled with his blocking. Having the offseason to continue to develop – as well as the addition of wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts – should only help Reed get better.
“He’s obviously a force in the passing game,” said first-year coach Jay Gruden. “We’ve got to work with him to be a little more stout in the running game because it’s important for a guy like that, but overall, I think he’s had no dropbacks from those concussions, knock on wood, and we have, obviously, one of the more talented young tight ends in the NFL, I believe.
“He’s going to be a great guy to help in the middle of the field. If people want to cloud DeSean and cloud Pierre, he’s going to be a guy that’s very much needed in the passing game, so we’ve got to get him healthy and keep him going.”
The toughest part of last season, Reed said, was that the Redskins finished 3-13. He felt not only useless, but at times, not even part of the team; he rarely attended practice after his diagnosis and was often only at Redskins Park for medical examinations.
This year, he hopes, will be different.
“I feel like we’ve got a whole bunch of targets on offense that Rob can throw to and I feel like the defense is not going to be able to double-team or anything like that with so many weapons,” Reed said. “I think I’ve got a chance to get open a lot.”