Redskins need Jordan Reed to be more than a decoy

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins don’t want to just use Jordan Reed to create space for others. If he’s going to play -- and he continues to increase his work in practice -- they want to make sure he can do more than just run a route in obvious passing situations.

That’s why they wanted to see him get through the week before knowing what he’ll be able to do. It’s likely that Reed will play Sunday against the Giants. He’s been limited in practice, but was able to do more Thursday than he had on Wednesday.

"The big thing is making sure he has the confidence where he can extend his arm and do all the things necessary to separate from defenders," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "He’s on the right track."

Reed missed the Chicago game because of the grade 3 separation of his AC joint in the left shoulder. He played the previous two games with it, catching a combined two passes for 16 yards. He was limited to mostly playing in obvious passing situations.

Against Carolina, Reed, who declined comment Thursday, did block at times along the line. But he was later in obvious pain after repeated hits to his shoulder.

“If he’s playing, he’s going to compete in both phases,” Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. "It makes it too hard where you have some tendencies and different things where you can just say, 'All right, he’s in so you know they’re throwing.'

"We’re not going to have any limitations on what we’re going to ask him to do that he’s done earlier in the year."

Reed’s presence can help open up passing lanes for teammates -- the Panthers, for example, would often have two paying close attention to him. Even though he was less than 100 percent.

But to do more than just help others, Reed must be able to use his shoulder enough to help his routes.

"He’s always going to draw attention," McVay said, "especially in those passing situations. But for Jordan, what makes him an elite player is his ability to separate, whether using his feet or sometimes upper body when guys collision you at the line. If he’s feeling capable of using that shoulder, that’s what makes him special."

Reed was one of seven Redskins who were limited in practice, including running back Rob Kelley. But Kelley has maintained that he's fine and will play. Three players did not practice: Su'a Cravens" target="_blank">Su'a Cravens (upper arm), cornerback Quinton Dunbar (concussion) and lineman Vinston Painter (calf).