Make a list of most enticing NFL talents that just can't quite put it all together and stay healthy, and Jordan Reed will rank near the top.
The Washington Redskins tight end owns the athleticism and skill set to be a menace to defenses as a pass-catcher. Yet, in six NFL seasons, he's never played a full 16-game slate.
Reed's best season came in 2015, in which he played 14 games, compiled 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. That was supposed to be the season that launched the TE into the stratosphere. Instead, injuries have kept Reed tethered to the ground.
He dealt with a toe injury in 2016. He opened the 2017 season on the PUP list with more toe troubles, then dealt with chest and hamstring injuries that season. And last year he still wasn't fully over the toe issue.
For the first time in three offseasons, Reed didn't undergo surgery.
The 29-year-old said he's finally feeling like his explosion is returning.
"My feet are definitely getting stronger, way stronger than last year," he said, via ESPN. "I feel more explosive, and I feel a lot better."
Despite playing 13 games in 2018, Reed wasn't a difference-making player, hauling in 54 receptions for 558 yards and two TDs. Fine figures for a middling player -- and certainly other aspects of the Redskins' struggling offense playing into those numbers -- but not what was once expected of Reed.
Reed knows that until he proves he can stay healthy and regain form, questions will abound.
"I understand the questions. I just got to answer them with my performance," Reed said. "Actions speak louder than words."
One query is whether the litany of injuries has finally sapped the athleticism that made Reed a difference-maker.
Another player returning from injury, running back Chris Thompson, noted that when Reed is healthy, he still commands the defense's attention.
"When we're healthy, it opens up our playbook, makes things easier for Jay and tougher on the defense," Thompson said of himself and Reed. "You've got to pick your poison, especially when Jordan's on the field. You have to double him, and if you don't, he will win on his routes. [If defenses do] it leaves someone else open."
If Reed can somehow recapture that 2015 form, it will make life immensely easier on Dwayne Haskins, or whichever QB wins that starting gig.