With training camp set to begin on July 25, Redskins.com will be previewing the current state of the roster, continuing today with the team’s tight ends.
The Redskins feature a deep tight ends unit, led by Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis.
-- Donald Parham
CURRENT STATE OF THE UNIT:
Perhaps the biggest takeaway for the tight end position is the return of Vernon Davis and Reed. His production has decreased over the past three seasons, but Davis could still be an offensive force despite being the oldest player on the Redskins' roster (35).
Davis averaged 26.2 yards per game last season and recorded 25 receptions for two touchdowns.
“Year 14; that’s a long time,” Davis said. “I’m very grateful for the career I’ve been able to have and to play in my hometown as well.”
Reed, meanwhile, has produced for Washington since he was drafted in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Reed set a record for receiving yards by a rookie tight end in his first season. He also became the first Redskins rookie to score a touchdown in both of his first two games since Chris Cooley in 2004. Reed’s efficiency is evident, but he's battled injuries.
He suffered a concussion midway through his rookie season but was still named to the Pro-Football Weekly/Pro-Football Writers of America all-rookie team. In 2014, Reed suffered a hamstring injury in the season opener. He was sidelined for a month before making his return mid-October only to suffer another hamstring injury in November.
Reed had a healthy 2015 season as he recorded 87 catches for 952 yards -- his career best single-season yardage. The following season, he garnered more success after he signed a five-year contract extension. Reed became the fastest tight end in NFL history to reach 200 career receptions and ranked 65th on the NFL Top Players of 2017. Towards the latter half of the 2016 season, though, he endured another injury.
Reed also sat out for a significant amount of time in the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to a hamstring and toe injury, respectively. Reed is still recovering from a toe injury as he didn’t participate in minicamp during early June. He said he'll be ready for training camp.
"Last season I had to rush to get ready [after toe surgery]," Reed told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in June. "This year I've got more time, and they're letting me take it.”
Other tight ends battling for playing time are Matt Flanagan, J.P. Holtz, Jeremy Sprinkle and Donald Parham.
The most experienced out of that group is Sprinkle, who the Redskins drafted in 2017. He spent most of his time filling in for Reed last season. In his two seasons, he's played 27 games and recorded seven receptions for two touchdowns.
Flanagan played in three games last season but has proven himself as a valuable blocker.
Soon after going undrafted, Parham signed with the Detroit Lions in May. The Lions released him, though, and he found a spot with the Redskins in June after rookie minicamp. The Lakeland, Florida, native is the tallest player on the roster, standing 6-foot-8. During his senior season at Stetson University, Parham finished with 85 receptions for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Redskins called up Holtz last December, but he didn't enter any games.
WHAT TO WATCH:
With Reed and Davis, as well as a handful of bench options, the Redskins will need to decide how to rotate their tight ends.
Another aspect to watch is how the Redskins' quarterback competition affects the efficiency of the tight ends. Rookie Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum and Colt McCoy are battling for the starting quarterback role.
While there are different combinations Redskins fans could see this season, the quarterback-to-tight end dynamics are in the works.
“Vernon, obviously I’ve never played with a tight end who can do what he does on the football field," Keenum said in June during minicamp.
“Train, train, train. Especially here at the facility, just grabbing the older guys that live out here like Vernon, [Jordan] Reed," Haskins said, "and trying to get those routes with those guys.”