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Easy Reed: Redskins tight end proving a real steal

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ASHBURN, Va. -- How impressive has Washington Redskins rookie tight end Jordan Reed been through the first six games of his career? There are many ways to answer that question.

Reed's 26 catches for 298 yards rank third and fifth among NFL rookies, and ahead of all tight ends in the class of 2013, although he has played one or two fewer games than most because he was sidelined in Week 4 with a deep thigh bruise and Washington had its bye the following week.

Project Reed's five-game stats over 15 games and he would catch 78 passes for 894 yards and six touchdowns. The yardage would break the Redskins' tight record held jointly by late Jerry Smith and the recently retired Chris Cooley. The catches would fall just six shy of the mark Cooley set in 2008.

There's also this: Fred Davis had started 25 straight games at tight end when available for Washington from Week 14 of 2010 through Week 2 of 2013. But Reed has come along so fast that the Redskins declared Davis inactive for Week 7 against Chicago in order to bolster their special teams with newcomers Josh Hull and Trenton Robinson.

Blocking specialist Logan Paulsen started at tight end, but Reed led all receivers with nine catches for 134 yards, the latter nearly double Smith's previous franchise record for a rookie tight end. Among the nine catches was a pretty grab in the back right corner of the end zone 27 seconds before halftime that gave Washington a 24-17 lead at the break en route to a much-needed 45-41 victory that raised its record to 2-4.

So much for Reed as mere insurance in case Davis didn't return successfully from the ruptured Achilles that ended his 2012 season in Week 7 or screwed up off the field as he had to earn a suspension for the final four games of 2011.

Reed was a standout high school quarterback who played just three years at Florida and was more of a receiver than a tight end according to Redskins coach Mike Shanahan before being taken in the third round of April's draft. He was the No. 6-rated tight end in the draft, according to rankings, and projected as a third- to fourth-round pick who ran a 4.70-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine.

"I knew if I worked hard, I would at least give myself a chance to be out there and that's what I did," Reed said of his first season in Washington. "After the first couple games, I realized it wasn't that hard out there, that I could play at this level."

There is no longer any doubt about that. Reed is on pace to catch more passes for more yards than Smith, Cooley and Davis did as rookies - combined. Reed produced more - four catches for 69 yards - in the first quarter against the Bears on Sunday than Davis - three for 25 - has all season. All but one of Reed's grabs against Chicago produced points or a first down, and the touchdown was one of two that didn't go for at least 10 yards.

"It doesn't surprise me because it's what the coaches (saw) in the draft meetings," said quarterback Robert Griffin III, the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year. "He's wired to separate (from defenders). He's got good hands. He has a wide catch radius, so he can catch just about anything you throw at him."

Indeed. Reed caught all nine passes Griffin threw his way Sunday, raising his season total to 26 catches out of the 30 times he has been targeted, an absurd .867 success rate.

Reed and Griffin started building their chemistry while working on the side of practices this spring when each was sidelined with an injury.

"We just got a feel for each other out there," Reed said. "He has to have confidence in me that I'm going to catch the ball and get open on my routes. Once he has that and I keep getting open, he's going to keep throwing me the ball."
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