Despite being in the midst of battling for jobs on the 53-man roster, the Redskins tight ends are as eager as anyone to have the star of their group back in the mix.
None of the Washington Redskins tight ends are expecting to replace Jordan Reed. None of them want to. They want to see their star teammate back on the field.
"If he's not out here, it's like, 'Gosh, what can we do to help him get back?'" fellow tight end Vernon Davis said Wednesday. "Because he's a dynamic playmaker. He's the best in the league when it comes to tight ends. We could definitely use his help when it comes to winning games."
The Redskins haven't had their standout blocker and receiver for all of training camp after he was placed on the Physically Unable Perform (PUP) list with a toe injury prior to camp opening in Richmond.
Reed, who has dealt with injuries throughout his four-year career, has never had an issue getting his rhythm back quickly, especially with quarterback Kirk Cousins. The pair has connected for 153 completions over the past two seasons – the most by a quarterback-tight end combination in the NFL.
When Cousins was asked at the beginning of camp about Reed being injured he calmly responded by saying, "One thing I learned last year and I said it in OTAs is that while this is really important, Week 1 of the regular season is what really matters, so we've just got to get Jordan ready for that."
Without Reed, the Redskins depth at the position has shined. Davis continues to show a kind of athleticism that most 33-year-old tight ends don't possess. Also impressing is Niles Paul, who is coming off a serious injury for a second consecutive season.
Paul, who didn't play for all of 2015 and played in only half of the 2016 season, has looked outstanding in camp, including a 40-yard touchdown pass from Cousins near the end of Wednesday’s practice.
"I've been doing that all camp," Paul said with a laugh. "I wasn't too concerned about that. I was never concerned about losing the wheels. Just had to get back to full speed."
Derek Carrier has also had big catches throughout camp while rookie Jeremy Sprinkle has shown a rare combination of size and speed.
However, the entire group realizes they can't match what Reed brings to the table when healthy. Only four tight ends in NFL history have averaged more receiving yards per game than Reed.
"Any time a guy like Jordan goes down it's tragic for the team because he's such a vital part of what we we're doing on offense," Paul said. "Honestly, we all feed off of him and each other as far as competition and getting better on routes and blocking. I benefit more from him being out here just to be able to feed off of each other. Him being gone has provided me, Vern and a lot of the younger guys opportunities to showcase our talents on certain plays that we wouldn't normally get."