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ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — When Jordan Reed was questionable to face the New Orleans Saints, they had one game plan if he played and another if he didn't.

That shows how important Reed is to the Washington Redskins, who have fallen out of reasonable playoff contention with the playmaking tight end out the past five weeks with a hamstring injury that's likely to keep him sidelined Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers.

Reed was also hampered by toe and chest/rib injuries this season, and missed in previous years with concussions and a sprained shoulder.

"I just hate that people sometimes label him as injury prone," coach Jay Gruden said, calling Reed unlucky.

"It's just unfortunate it's happened to Jordan in his career. He's doing everything right. He works extremely hard in the weight room, he's put on weight, he runs, he's in great shape. It's just been very unfortunate."

Reed has just 27 catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns in six games this season, the second of his five-year extension worth more than $46 million.

Since setting the franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end with 952 in 2015, Reed has a total of 897 yards the past two seasons as he has been slowed by so many injuries.

An injury prior to training camp kept the 27-year-old off the field for weeks and eventually led to a strained right hamstring from overcompensating. A bruised sternum cost him a game, too, during what have been some trying times.

"It's a rough time for me right now," Reed said Wednesday. "It's challenging right now. It's one of the hardest times in my life right now that I'm dealing with. I think of things in the past (that have) strengthened me to this point to where I could get through this."

Reed said his two daughters and the rest of his family are keeping him positive. That's not an easy task as he continues experiencing setbacks trying to return from the hamstring injury.

It's possible with the Redskins all but eliminated that the Redskins decide to shut down Reed and injured left tackle Trent Williams, who needs right knee surgery. For now, there are four games left and Reed remains in limbo.

"It's something we'll all discuss and make a choice together," Reed said. "We're not there yet, so I'm just focused on getting my body healthy."

When Reed is healthy, Washington's offense is much more dynamic. Vernon Davis has filled in admirably with 35 catches for 542 yards, but he's not Reed.

"When you have Jordan Reed up and healthy, a big part of how you're going to attack the defense is with Jordan Reed," quarterback Kirk Cousins said.

"I think now that he hasn't been available, that's where I think the challenge lies, for the coaches to sit and say: 'How do we want to attack this defense without Jordan? Who do we want to feature? Who do we want to use? What do we want our reads and our play calls to look like?'"

Whether Reed is injury prone, unlucky or some combination of those things, he's a significant piece of the Redskins' future. Because of that, they may not rush him back for games without much meaning.

"Big thing is to get him back to healthy — whether it's this week, next week, or the week after or in the offseason," Gruden said.

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