Redskins’ tight end Niles Paul didn’t break off a long return Thursday night in Minnesota. But he came oh-so close a couple of times—and that probably means he’ll hang onto the job considering the team’s previous struggles at the position.
Paul returned three kickoffs in the Redskins’ 34-27 loss at the Metrodome, averaging 24.7 yard per. Paul replaced Josh Morgan, who remained as the punt returner.
“Very satisfied with his innate ability to bring back a couple of kicks,” Coach Mike Shanahan said of Paul, who finished last season as the Redskins’ kickoff returner but had not been given the opportunity this season until Thursday. “We’re going to move people around. If somebody takes advantage of their opportunities, then they’ll stay there. If they don’t, then we’ll try somebody else.”
Shanahan added: “That’s one of the reasons why we put Niles back there, to give him a little shot, and he took advantage of that opportunity.”
On Paul’s first two returns against the Vikings, he momentarily appeared to have a crease. Although he was stopped at the 22- and 28-yard line, respectively, the fact that he was a threat to go long signaled a step in the right direction for a team that's mired at the bottom of the league in average starting field position.
“I think we were one or two blocks away on a couple of those returns from going the distance,” Shanahan said.