While he only appeared on 18 offensive plays against the Bengals, Jordan Reed's presence changed the way Cincinnati's defense lined up against Kirk Cousins and Co.
Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed made his return to the field on Sunday after missing time with a toe injury, catching two passes for 12 yards in his limited action.
Reed, who went on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on July 26, practiced for the first time last Wednesday before making his preseason debut four days later.
"He is a presence, has a big effect on every game plan," said quarterback Kirk Cousins of the tight end. "So, we have to continue getting him out there and working together and get ready for Week 1."
Cousins and Reed connected twice on four attempts against a Cincinnati defense that generated the fifth-lowest opponent passer rating in 2016. Cousins pointed out that the Bengals made his tight end a focus in Sunday's game, double-teaming him at times. For Reed, his impact is not just measured by the stat sheet, but the attention that defenses are forced to pay him.
"He's being doubled, if you will, from a distance, so we have to take advantage of the other side of the field when that happens," said Cousins. "I did feel the defense was aware of him today."
Reed's four targets on Sunday were tied for the most on the team with wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr.
Now that he is back on the field, Reed believes that the Redskins are close to being ready for the regular season.
"I have got to go out and watch the film, but from what I saw, the O-line came out today and we ran the ball well," said Reed after Sunday's victory. "We just had a couple little minor errors. Things we usually don't do – drop the ball and things like that. Once we get that cleaned up, I feel like we are going to be coming for defenses."
Reed's return should instill senses of stability and familiarity into the offense, as his fellow teammates are undoubtedly pleased to have him back on the field. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder stressed the importance of getting "that camaraderie back within the unit" as the regular season approaches. "We have Philadelphia coming," he warned.
Reed is not expected to play in the final preseason game on Thursday, but will be ready to go when the Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles in the regular season opener.