Redskins boosted by healthy Orakpo, Davis
Niles Paul believes this is the year he will emerge as a threat at tight end for the Redskins.
In past seasons, Paul felt like he didn’t have a full grasp of the position, but that has changed in his third season with the team.
“The emphasis this year is to be stronger, be more focused, get used to playing tight end,” Paul said Tuesday after Redskins minicamp.
“I feel like last year I was more of an athlete playing tight end. This year I’m more of a true tight end.”
A wide receiver during his college days at the University of Nebraska, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan drafted Paul to play tight end. At 6’1” and 230 lbs., Paul has the size needed to play along the line, but learning the technique has taken some time.
“This year I feel a lot more comfortable playing tight end,” Paul said. “I know my offense a lot better, I know the whole offense a lot better.”
In two seasons with the Skins, Paul has registered just 10 receptions for 177 yards. But in those 10 catches and his work on special teams, Paul has shown flashes of the size and speed Shanahan liked.
Last season, when the Redskins blasted the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, Paul broke free in the secondary for his lone career touchdown, a 29-yard reception from quarterback Robert Griffin III.
But Paul also realizes that he drops the ball too often.
“In my opinion last year I had way too many drops,” Paul said. “Whether they were contested or not, I had way too many drops.”
With starting tight end Fred Davis rehabbing from a torn Achilles suffered last season, Paul has benefitted from more practice work this offseason.
The increased reps with the first and second teams have “definitely” helped Paul through OTAs and minicamp.
What role Paul will play in 2013 remains to be seen. After Davis went down last season, Logan Paulsen stepped in to the starting role for the Skins.
When Davis returns, Paulsen will still play a large role. Additionally, the Redskins selected rookie tight end Jordan Reed out of Florida in the third round of April’s draft.
Shanahan often talks about building team depth, and it appears the squad has that at tight end. Much has been suggested about the offense going to more two tight end sets, a growing trend throughout the NFL.
Those sets have proven successful on teams such as New England and Baltimore, and the Redskins might try to emulate some similar things offensively.
One of the most entertaining of the Redskins players to follow on Twitter, Paul lives much of his life like an open book. Improved play at tight end will only give him more of a chance to interact with fans.
“I feel like a true tight end this year,” Paul said, “and it’s definitely showing on film.”