2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Quiet Steelers TE Paulson prepping for bigger role

By WILL GRAVES - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-29 19:34

LATROBE, Pa. (AP) - David Paulson stood on practice field No. 1 on Sunday afternoon, the second-year Pittsburgh Steelers tight end standing next to All-Pro teammate Heath Miller while the two watched one of Miller's children do their own imitation of a 40-yard dash.

Slouched over a bit, flushed cheeks making the 24-year-old Paulson look a decade younger, Paulson looked a bit like Miller's little brother. And in a way, perhaps he is.

While Miller remains on the physically unable to perform list as he continues to recover from a gruesome left knee injury last season, the timeline on Paulson's apprenticeship is speeding up.

In the span of a year, the soft-spoken kid taken as a seventh-round flier in the 2012 draft is possibly the team's best pass catching option until Miller returns.

Not that Paulson wants to talk about it.

Even after catching a handful of passes from Ben Roethlisberger - including a diving grab in front of LaMarr Woodley - during a seven-on-seven drill on the second day of training camp, Paulson shrugs his shoulders and looks at the ground when asked to discuss his rise up the depth chart in 12 short months.

``I'm a little more comfortable and I know what to expect out of training camp,'' said Paulson, who caught seven passes in limited playing time in 2012. ``I know the offense. I'm more comfortable with the people here.''

Certainly looks like it.

Then again, Paulson's always been able to get his hands on the football. He caught 67 passes for 1,041 and 10 touchdowns in his final two years at Oregon.

Lining up in the slot, Paulson used his 6-foot-4 body to create matchup problems with opposing linebackers and safeties in the Ducks' up-tempo attack.

The Steelers saw enough on film to grab Paulson with the 240th pick in the draft even though Miller is in the midst of a stellar career and veterans David Johnson and Leonard Pope were on the roster.

Tight ends coach James Daniels' recommendation to general manager Kevin Colbert when Daniels saw Paulson's name still on the board was simple.

``I thought he was a really good football player,'' Daniels said. ``I thought he was better than a seventh-round pick for sure.''

Rounding out the edges, however, will take some time. Paulson spent his entire college career off the line of scrimmage. He was adequate as a blocker, but it wasn't exactly the most important part of his job.

If Paulson wants to become an every-down player in the NFL, it will have to be. At 246 pounds, Paulson allows he's a hardly a ``monster.''

While he's tried to put ``good weight'' on, it hasn't been easy. And while Daniels believes Paulson has taken a step forward when it comes to moving defenders around in close quarters, there's still plenty of work to be done.

Just in case Paulson needed a reminder, rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones provided one during the first practice in pads on Monday.

Left all alone to contend with Jones, Paulson was pushed around with ease by the player the Steelers hope will one day fill the void of menace left by the cutting of former All-Pro James Harrison.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gave Paulson an earful, though if it affected Paulson in any way it didn't show. It rarely does.

During his first training camp last summer, Paulson took a pounding but kept getting back to his feet. It's that resilience that allays any concerns Daniels has about Paulson's ability to improve.

``He won some battles for us at the line of scrimmage last year and he didn't win some,'' Daniels said. ``Hopefully the wins outnumber the losses. I don't think there's any question that if we call on him for it, he'll win more times than he gets beat.''

The key for the Steelers will be to pick the battles it sends Paulson into. Veteran Matt Spaeth was brought back in free agency to serve as the masher. Yet Paulson needs to be effective enough as a blocker so that he doesn't tip off defenses.

``We don't want the defense to be able to say, `This guy's in they're throwing it. This guy's in, they're running it,''' Daniels said. ``That's what we've challenged him with and that's what he's striving to be.''

For all his boyish looks, Paulson is an ardent student of the game, drawing praise from Miller and Spaeth for his maturity.

``He's not really a guy you have to take under your wing and show him the ropes,'' Spaeth said. ``He's just professional in how he does everything.''

NOTES: The Steelers practiced for the first time in pads on Monday, a workout highlighted by the ``backs on backers'' drill where a running back attempts to block a blitzing linebacker. Jones clashed with second-rounder RB Le'Veon Bell four times. Bell got the better of Jones on three occasions and also held his own against starters Woodley and Lawrence Timmons. ``It was tense,'' Bell said. ``It was something new and something I have to get used to. A lot different in college, but I think I had a pretty good day.'' . Cornerbacks Cortez Allen (knee) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) were held out for the second straight practice and their injuries are characterized day to day. ... The Steelers will not practice Tuesday. Workouts resume Wednesday afternoon at St. Vincent College and are open to the public.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow WillGraves on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WillGravesAP

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Captain MunnerlynAug 20 09:58a

After starting the season sharing No. 1 duties with Josh Robinson, Minnesota Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn appears to have won the starting left corner job outright. Robinson has missed [ More ]

Jerrel JerniganAug 20 09:20a

New York Giants WRs Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Mario Manningham have not made many big plays this preseason. Cruz initially caught a long play-action pass Saturday, [ More ]

Brian HoyerAug 20 08:53a

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer has been named the starting quarterback over QB Johnny Manziel. Head coach Mike Pettine wrote the announcement in an e-mail and said Manziel made [ More ]

Lance BriggsAug 20 08:43a

Chicago Bears LB Lance Briggs (knee), OG Brian de la Puente (knee), OG Eben Britton (hamstring) and CB Isaiah Frey (hamstring) missed practice Tuesday, Aug. 19. TE Dante Rosario [ More ]

Jordan MillsAug 20 08:23a

Chicago Bears OT Jordan Mills (foot) is in danger of missing Week 1. He has worn a walking boot sporadically throughout camp after January surgery to repair a broken metatarsal in his left foot.

Santonio HolmesAug 20 05:33a

The Chicago Bears and WR Santonio Holmes reached agreement on a minimum salary benefit contract for Holmes that offers no guaranteed money. Holmes signed with the Bears on Saturday, [ More ]

Colt LyerlaAug 20 01:33a

Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers TE Colt Lyerla (knee), who was waived/injured Tuesday, Aug. 19, could move to fullback in the future, according to tight ends coach [ More ]

Alterraun VernerAug 20 12:03a

Tampa Bay Buccaneer CB Alterraun Verner (hamstring) returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 19, but head coach Lovie Smith said he may not play in the team's preseason game Sunday, Aug. 24.

Mike DevitoAug 20 12:03a

Kansas City Chiefs DT Mike DeVito (hand) and DE Mike Catapano (illness) returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 19. Catapano worked with the first-team during pass-rushing drills.

Colt LyerlaAug 19 11:43p

Green Bay Packers TE Colt Lyerla (knee) will likely be placed on Injured Reserve after he clears waivers, according to Lyerla's agent, Vinnie Porter. 'So to put him on [ More ]

Jerome SimpsonAug 19 11:33p

Minnesota Vikings WR Jerome Simpson said Tuesday, Aug. 19, that he told the truth when he met with NFL hearings officer Harold Henderson to appeal a three-game suspension stemming [ More ]

Brandon LloydAug 19 10:23p

San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon Lloyd has developed a bond with WR Anquan Boldin and is in good position to make the final 53-man roster.

Tyler WilsonAug 19 10:23p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Rex Burkhead (knee), CB Darqueze Dennard (hip), TE Tyler Eifert (shoulder), DE Wallace Gilberry (undisclosed), DE Dontay Moch (undisclosed), OL Mike Pollak (knee), WR Dane Sanzenbacher [ More ]

Nick CollinsAug 19 10:23p

Free-agent S Nick Collins (Packers) officially announced his retirement from the NFL Tuesday, Aug. 19, on his official Twitter account.

Kenjon BarnerAug 19 10:13p

The Philadelphia Eagles acquired RB Kenjon Barner from the Carolina Panthers Tuesday, Aug. 19, for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015.

Andre SmithAug 19 10:13p

Cincinnati CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hip), LB Sean Porter (knee) and OT Andre Smith (concussion) returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 19.

D.J. HaydenAug 19 10:03p

Oakland Raiders CB D.J. Hayden (foot) will be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list next week if the team doesn't believe he will healthy enough to start [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsAug 19 09:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs) returned to practice on a limited basis Tuesday, Aug. 19. Watkins said he could play in a game, but head coach Doug Marrone [ More ]

Dimitri PattersonAug 19 09:13p

New York Jets CB Dimitri Patterson (leg) said he hopes to play in the team's preseason game Friday, Aug. 22, and said there is 'no doubt' he will be [ More ]

Darnell DockettAug 19 09:13p

Arizona Cardinals DE Frostee Rucker will have the first shot at replacing DT Darnell Dockett (knee), and he will start in Dockett's position at practice Wednesday, Aug. 20. DE [ More ]

Jake LongAug 19 09:03p

St. Louis Ram OT Jake Long (knee), LB James Laurinaitis (ankle), DE Michael Brockers (ankle) and CB Janoris Jenkins (undisclosed) could all play in the team's preseason game Saturday, Aug. 23.

Champ BaileyAug 19 08:43p

New Orleans Saints DE Akiem Hicks (undisclosed) and CB Champ Bailey (undisclosed) were held out of team drills during practice Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Glenn DorseyAug 19 08:33p

San Francisco 49ers DT Glenn Dorsey (biceps) will have one more MRI to see how his torn bicep is healing before the team decides if he can return at some point this season.

Ben GrubbsAug 19 08:33p

New Orleans Saints OG Ben Grubbs (undisclosed) and WR Brandin Cooks (illness) missed practice Tuesday, Aug. 19. Cooks is dealing with a stomach virus, and Grubbs left practice early [ More ]

Casey HaywardAug 19 08:23p

Green Bay Packers CB Casey Hayward (undisclosed) was limited in practice Tuesday, Aug. 19. Head coach Mike McCarthy said the move was precautionary because of his injury history. Hayward [ More ]

Steven JacksonAug 19 07:43p

Atlanta Falcons RB Steven Jackson (hamstring) and OT Gabe Carimi (ankle) did not practice Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Brett KeiselAug 19 06:13p

The Pittsburgh Steelers and free-agent DE Brett Keisel (Steelers) have agreed to an undisclosed deal, according to a source.

Pat DevlinAug 19 05:43p

The Miami Dolphins placed QB Pat Devlin (hamstring) on no-recall waivers from Reserve/Injured with an injury settlement.

Rodger SaffoldAug 19 05:33p

St. Louis Rams DT Michael Brockers (ankle), OT Rodger Saffold (neck), FB Kadeem Jones (undisclosed) and SS Matt Daniels (ankle) returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Dimitri PattersonAug 19 05:03p

New York Jets CB Dimitri Patterson (leg), C Nick Mangold and RB Chris Ivory returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Marcus GilbertAug 19 04:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert has signed a six-year contract extension. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Josh GordonAug 19 04:43p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon could have shown more effort on a couple plays during the team's Monday night game against the Washington Redskins, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group