With Jordan Reed currently continuing to work his way back from a toe injury, Washington's coaching staff is getting an extended look at a deep group of tight ends.
As veteran Vernon Davis put best on the opening day of the Washington Redskins' 2017 training camp, the tight ends are "Jordan Reed's group."
It's obviously easy to understand way, as Reed is coming off a Pro Bowl campaign and has fully solidified himself as one of the top players at his position today.
Over the last two seasons, Reed has accumulated 153 receptions for 1,638 yards and 17 touchdowns in 26 regular season games.
But while Reed is not only Washington's No. 1 tight end but also the go-to target for quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Redskins have considerable depth behind the 27-year-old.
In fact, Redskins tight ends coach Wes Phillips remarked during the offseason that this is the "best group in the league."
With Reed currently on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start camp, the Redskins' six other tight ends have been on display, proving why Phillips is so confident in his claim. Davis agreed when asked about the tight ends.
"Honestly, I feel like we have everything that we need when it comes to depth," Davis said. "We have depth. If Jordan Reed's not there, everyone in the tight end unit has to make sure that they are well prepared and doing everything that they can to contribute to helping this team win. At the end of the day, it's all about contributing to help this team win. Without everyone putting in the effort, nothing's going to happen, so I feel like every young man in the tight end group, collectively, I feel like we're doing everything that we can to make sure that we're competing, working hard and making sure that we are readily available."
During Thursday's opening practice session, Davis and Niles Paul worked with the first-team offensive unit.
Even at 33 years old, Davis is still one of the best athletes on the 90-man roster. During the first period of unit drills, Davis made a bobbling catch near the left sideline before getting two feet inbounds and then racing up field. Just a few plays after that, the University of Maryland product made a sliding catch that avoided a tackle attempt by inside linebacker Zach Brown.
Paul, meanwhile, was lined up all over the field. The former wide receiver has been mentioned as a potential fullback whenever Washington needs someone lined up in the spot.
Despite only recording two catches last season before being placed on Injured Reserve, Paul is expected to fill a big role on the offense.
"I've been waiting to get back to work for a long time," Paul said. "I got hurt Week 8. Just to be back out here healthy and 100 percent, I'm happy."
As for Derek Carrier and Jeremy Sprinkle, both made big catches during Thursday's practice session.
Carrier tallied a would-be 30-plus-yard reception while Sprinkle was able to create a bit of separation in open-field.
For the first time since a 2015 preseason trade from the San Francisco 49ers, Carrier had an entire season to find himself in Washington. Last offseason, the Beloit College product was rehabbing from a torn ACL and MCL.
Sprinkle, meanwhile, could be the inline blocker Washington is seeking from the position, but is more of a pass-catching threat than some of his draft bios stated. In fact, he is Arkansas' all-time touchdowns leader among tight ends and recorded 33 catches for 380 yards during his senior season.
Washington also has Manasseh Garner and new signing E.J. Bibbs fighting for playing time.
"I've got a whole group of guys that are all about getting better in every phase of their game, not just the passes that you see caught out there, the run game, the hands, the footwork, these guys are locked in," Phillips said.