The Washington Redskins will enter Sunday’s game more uncertain about key starters than in their first two games — notably tight end Jordan Reed and running back Rob Kelley.
Both players are among five listed as questionable for the 8:30 p.m. match-up against the Oakland Raiders. The others are: linebacker Mason Foster (shoulder), safety Montae Nicholson (shoulder) and corner Josh Norman (shoulder).
Redskins coach Jay Gruden said the team will likely make decisions on each of them Sunday. However, each of those players — aside from Reed — has said he expects to play Sunday night.
Reed, though, sat out Wednesday’s practice and was limited the last two days with rib/shoulder injuries.
Reed’s durability has always been in question, stemming from 20 missed games in his first four seasons combined. But he’s also tried to play through various injuries and simply couldn’t.
The complicating factor is his role: As a full-time tight end, he’ll have to occasionally block.
But Reed said he had full range of motion. He caught the ball fine during individual drills, in which he worked with the receivers for a second consecutive day.
“I feel good, man,” Reed said. “I tested it and it held up, so we’ll make a game-time choice.”
Last season he suffered a sprained AC joint in his shoulder in a Thanksgiving Day game against Dallas. He played in the next game 10 days later, but struggled and was in clear pain at times after blocking. He finished with one catch. This time, he sprained his SC joint.
When he was hurt last season, he could be seen in practice grabbing his shoulder on occasion, as if it were bothering him. But that hasn’t been the case this week. Still, he said the pain of this injury was different.
“It feels worse,” Reed said of his current situation. “I’ve never felt nothing like this so it’s hard to describe.”
The Redskins could use him as a third tight end, bringing him in during obvious passing situations. He could then leave the heavy blocking up to veterans Vernon Davis and Niles Paul. Reed is coming off a six-catch game (for 48 yards) in which his timing was much better than in the opener. In the first game, he and quarterback Kirk Cousins weren’t in synch on a few routes; Reed admitted he was too fast off the line and disrupted the timing. Last week, though, as Reed cut, the ball was en route.
If Reed doesn’t play, then rookie Jeremy Sprinkle would be active for the first time this season. He offers size at 6-foot-5, 252 pounds, but he’s still working on his blocking at the NFL level.
“If we feel Sprinkle’s the better option at 100 percent than Reed at 70 percent, we’ll take that into consideration,” Gruden said.
Kelley said he expected to play and would wear a protective pad over his ribs. He was hurt after gaining 78 yards on 12 carries in the first half against the Rams last week. He called the initial pain a “10” but said by Wednesday it had been cut in half. If he can’t play, then rookie Samaje Perine would take over, with Chris Thompson remaining in his third-down role and Mack Brown being activated.