RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Jay Gruden welcomed everyone back to training camp, cracked jokes and was just a little vague about who might join injured safety DeAngelo Hall on the Washington Redskins’ injured list.
“Probably a couple more,” Gruden said.
One of those “couple more” is tight end Jordan Reed, a surprise inclusion on the physically unable to perform list with a toe injury.
A team spokesman said Wednesday that Reed was dealing with significant toe soreness and is undergoing further evaluation before being cleared to play as the Redskins hope to avoid any long-term issues.
Reed’s status is suddenly one of the biggest questions at Redskins camp, where Gruden is assuming the play-calling and Kirk Cousins is going into his second consecutive season on the franchise tag .
As Cousins’ most reliable target, Reed finished third on the team with 66 catches last season despite missing four games with a concussion and a shoulder injury. The 27-year-old skipped voluntary offseason workouts after a 686-yard, six-touchdown season but looked good during minicamp practices.
On the field in June, Gruden exclaimed after a catch by Reed: “Welcome back, 86! Good to have you back, man.” Cousins ran down the field yelling: “He’s back! He’s back! Woo hoo!”
Reed is on the shelf for now, but unlike the PUP list at the start of the season that forces a player to miss the first six games, he could be activated at any time. The same goes for Hall and linebacker Bates, who are recovering from knee surgeries, and receiver Kendal Thompson, who has an undisclosed injury.
With the regular-season opener against Philadelphia more than six weeks away, Reed has time to get healthy. Fortunately for the Redskins, they won’t have to wait to see two players finally healthy after Achilles tendon injuries in receiver Josh Doctson and linebacker Junior Galette.
“Josh looks very good, knock on wood,” Gruden said at his camp-opening news conference. “(Galette) has a lot to prove for himself, as well do a lot of guys on this roster and coaches, and I’m excited to see him play.”
As much as Gruden wants to see his players compete in various position battles, he’s in the spotlight as he takes over play-calling duties in the wake of Sean McVay’s departure to coach the Los Angeles Rams.
Going into his fourth camp as head coach, Gruden will give himself some work with unscripted practice sessions as he juggles multiple responsibilities.
“It changes a little bit, a little bit more on my plate,” Gruden said. “How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach.”
Having Reed healthy and Doctson back on the field after an injury-ruined rookie year and getting more from running back Rob Kelley would make Gruden’s life a lot easier. On defense, new coordinator Greg Manusky should benefit from Galette having no restrictions after missing the past two seasons with Achilles tendon tears.
A year after tearing his right Achilles tendon just before camp, Galette considers himself in the best shape of his life and “more explosive” than he has ever been.
First-round pick Jonathan Allen is full-go after questions about arthritis in his shoulders affected his draft stock and allowed him to fall to 17th, where the Redskins feel they got a steal. Allen and free agent additions Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee will be engaged in one of the most crowded position battles in camp on the defensive line.
There’s no question as to who the starting QB is, but Cousins will draw plenty of questions as he becomes the first quarterback in NFL history to play back-to-back seasons on the franchise tag. But Gruden isn’t worried about Cousins being a distraction.
“He’s not going to come in and be a different guy every day,” Gruden said. “The contract status will take care of itself eventually, hopefully, but right now it is what it is and we’re happy to have him for 2017.”