Toe soreness in offseason workouts more than a year ago became lingering pain that threw off everything for the Washington Redskins tight end. Overcompensation led to a hamstring injury that kept Reed off the field Clive Walford Jersey Jets , and he never felt like himself even when he was able to play.
So Reed went under the knife twice to have a sesamoid bone in each big toe removed. Reed now feels "100 times better" and hopes his toe injuries are a thing of the past so he can get back to his form of 2015, when he had 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"It's definitely a relief," Reed said Friday. "Just having that nagging pain for two years was awful and now it's gone, so it's just a lot better."
Reed said toe fractures gave him little choice but to have the surgeries, one on his left foot in December and the other on the right in February. They've so far worked out far better than his decision to get a stem-cell injection in the summer of 2017 that aggravated his toe problem so much he couldn't walk.
That self-described "poor decision" completely derailed Reed's season, limiting him to 27 catches in six games. He tried orthotics in his shoes to ease the pain, but nothing worked, leading to an operation that's more common for dancers and exceedingly rare for the general public.
"That's usually kind of like the last stop on the train," said Mark Drakos, a foot and ankle surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. "They're very little bones. They're about the size of like a Peanut M&M, so they're very, very small. Most bones, if they break or they don't heal, we'll go in and fix them with plates and screws of if you break your ankle, we put it back together. These are so small that a lot of times we just take it out because it's quicker. It's a quicker recovery."
Reed is well past the usual eight-to-12-week recovery period and has looked sharp in individual and team drills early in camp. Just having him on the field again is a plus for the Redskins, who need the 28-year-old to create matchup problems for opposing defenses.
"He is a unique guy at the tight end position that can do so many things: route-running with the ball in his hands after the catch," new quarterback Alex Smith said. "He is oftentimes the guy that it doesn't really matter who's lined up against him 鈥?linebacker Randy Johnson Jersey , safety, corner. He is a guy that I think has the skill set to win against all these positions."
Coach Jay Gruden, who early in camp a year ago didn't think Reed's toe injury would be a long-term concern, is hopeful now because, as he put it, "I have to be."
"I think he's one of the top tight ends in the National Football League when healthy," Gruden said. "Last year, he tried to fight through a couple of those injuries in the offseason. He got them fixed, so hopefully we'll put an end to all those foot and toe injury things and ankle. Jordan, he feels great right now, very optimistic about the way his body feels and now it's our job to make sure we just progress him along at a good rate."
Gruden hopes to get Reed into a preseason game or two and have him 100 percent for the season opener against Arizona. On a team with a handful of players working back from injuries, Reed is taking a conservative approach as he balances restraint with the excitement of what he could do when finally healthy again.
"Still working through that with the coaches and taking it slow," he said. "I'm just getting my body built back up. ... I'm confident moving forward."
NOTES: Second-year LB Ryan Anderson left practice with back spasms and he's considered day-to-day. A team spokesman said RB Rob Kelley's departure was heat-related. ... LB Zach Brown was a limited participant in team drills a day after straining the quadriceps muscle in his left thigh. ... The team's afternoon walkthrough was cut short by lightning. Unlike their regular practice facility in Ashburn, Virginia, outside Washington, the Redskins do not have an indoor bubble at their Richmond site.Jason Witten mostly held it together while announcing he was retiring after 15 years with the Dallas Cowboys to go into TV.
One wavering moment came when the tight end turned to owner Jerry Jones on a stage in front of his family, teammates and club employees in what normally serves as the dining room in the team's practice facility.
"The hardest part of this decision was knowing that I would never be able to hand you that Lombardi Trophy Youth Cordy Glenn Jersey ," Witten said during his 15-minute speech Thursday. "I told you back in 2006 that I would not let you down. I hope that in your eyes, I held up my end of the bargain."
Just days away from turning 36, Witten is leaving to be the analyst for ESPN's "Monday Night Football" telecast, a move the network confirmed after Witten's retirement announcement.
The decision by the franchise leader in games, catches and yards receiving is the same one friend and longtime teammate Tony Romo, the club passing leader in yards and touchdowns, made last year with CBS.
They joined the Cowboys together in 2003 鈥?Witten a third-round pick out of Tennessee and Romo the undrafted quarterback three years from becoming the starter. They left without getting Dallas to an NFC championship game, and the Super Bowl drought for a franchise with five titles is at 23 years and counting.
"Jason has given so much to this team, to this franchise. He emptied the bucket here," Jones said, responding to a question about that missing Super Bowl after speeches by all three on stage: Witten, Jones and coach Jason Garrett.
"When I look at where we were with the great legacy of our fans that have had 56 years of being around some of the greatest people and names of players ever ... to me, no one has ever given more of himself and no one has ever made any bigger impact."
The circumstances for Witten and Romo were different. The Cowboys were anticipating a 16th season, which would have been a club record, from their 11-time Pro Bowl player. Romo had lost his job to Dak Prescott while injured and was deciding last offseason whether to play elsewhere.
As recently as two weeks ago, Witten suggested he might play until he was 40 and said he "absolutely" was returning. He acknowledged the offer from ESPN changed things.
"In those moments, those other things didn't exist Isaiah Oliver Color Rush Jersey ," said Witten, set to call the Cowboys' home game against Tennessee on Nov. 5. "I was certain when I went through it that I wanted the blessing of Jerry and his family, an opportunity I have to stay around the game."
Dozens lined Witten's walk from the entrance to the team's headquarters, down some stairs and a long hallway to the dining room.
His retirement ceremony, with Prescott and star running back Ezekiel Elliott watching from the same row, came not far from a huge picture of Witten's signature moment 鈥?a 2007 game when he ran nearly 30 yards and was tackled without a helmet after it was knocked off.
The Cowboys hung that picture over the entrance to their indoor practice field long before Witten pondered retirement. He spent two seasons walking under it.
"Whenever young kids come up to me and ask me, 'How do you grow up and play for the Dallas Cowboys, and have that type of career?'" Witten said. "My answer was always the same, the secret is in the dirt. I was never the most talented, never the flashiest, I relied on grit."
Witten was also known for durability, holding club records for consecutive games (235) and starts (179). He missed one game, the fifth of his rookie season because of a broken jaw, and returned 23 days after rupturing his spleen in a preseason game to play the 2012 opener.
With 1,152 catches for 12,448 yards, Witten joins Tony Gonzalez as the only NFL tight ends with at least 1 Ezekiel Elliott Jersey Womens ,000 catches and 10,000 yards. His 15 seasons are tied for the most in Dallas with defensive end Ed "Too Tall" Jones, safety Bill Bates and late offensive lineman Mark Tuinei.
"He's one of the best and most complete tight ends ever to play this game," Garrett said. "The stats and the credentials speak for themselves. They don't really begin to tell the story. Over the last 15 years, he's played virtually every play."
Witten is third on the Cowboys' list with 68 touchdown catches. He trails Dez Bryant, released last month with 73 TDs, and Hall of Famer Bob Hayes (71).
Without Witten and Bryant, the Cowboys are missing their top two receivers from last year and essentially for the past six seasons. Among the tight ends left behind, only one has a catch in a regular-season game: Geoff Swaim with nine over three seasons.
The Cowboys are high on Blake Jarwin and hope that former Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers can develop after missing his entire second season with a concussion. Dallas drafted Stanford's Dalton Schultz in the fourth round last week.
"There's an old saying in pro football, the circus doesn't stay in town forever," Witten said. "And when you're young, I think it takes on a meaning that when your opportunity comes, grab it. I've decided that the time has come for me to pass the torch to the next generation of Dallas Cowboys.".
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