ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — As soon as Washington Redskins rookie tight end Jordan Reed got over the first of what's been a series of intermittent injuries, 13-year NFL veteran Santana Moss could tell the new kid was going to be good.
"Once he started running around, you're like, 'Ah, he got a little hop in his step,'" Moss said Thursday, shimmying his shoulders. "He's got something that's different from other tight ends. So when I watched that a couple of times, it made me tilt my head back, like, 'Wow. That's rare.' You know what I mean? You don't get a tight end that can bounce like that."
Reed is the latest example of the modern model for his position — a 6-foot-3, 225-pound guy who will line up alongside the offensive line, yes, and go across the middle, yes, but also can speed into space and is "wired to separate," as quarterback Robert Griffin III put it, quoting offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's phrase.
"He's different from your average tight end — a big-body, big-bone guy that can run and catch. He actually is an athlete," Moss said. "He's just a mismatch. I enjoy watching him against safeties. ... You put him against any linebacker, and he's going to beat them. When I watch him separate against those safeties, I'm like, 'It's a wrap.'"
Heading into Sunday, when the Redskins (2-4) play at the Denver Broncos (6-1), Reed has emerged as one of Griffin's top receivers — and among the most dependable in the NFL.
Through Week 7, Reed ranks fifth in the entire league, and No. 1 among rookies, in reception percentage at 86.7, holding onto 26 of the 30 balls thrown his way so far, according to STATS LLC.
"I take pride in my routes and being able to create separation," Reed said. "I work on that every day in practice."
In last weekend's 45-41 victory over the Chicago Bears, Griffin aimed nine passes in Reed's direction, and all nine were caught, for a total of 134 yards. No Redskins rookie tight end ever had more than 78 yards receiving in a game; no rookie for the team, at any position, had gained that many yards via catches since 2001.
"He's got a wide catch radius, which basically means he can catch anything you throw at him — high, low, behind him," Griffin said. "He's a friendly target for a quarterback and can help with mismatches out there."
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