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

Travis KelceNov 27 07:43p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ankle) tweaked his ankle in practice Friday, Nov. 27, but head coach Andy Reid thinks Kelce will be fine for Week 12 against the Buffalo Bills.

Danny AmendolaNov 27 07:33p

New England Patriots WR Danny Amendola (knee) was limited in practice for the second straight day Friday, Nov. 27, and is questionable for Week 12 against the Denver Broncos.

Emmanuel SandersNov 27 07:23p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (ankle, finger) and TE Owen Daniels (knee) both practiced in full Friday, Nov. 27, and are probable against the New England Patriots in Week 12.

Michael FloydNov 27 06:23p

Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd (hamstring) is questionable to play in Week 12 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Nick FolesNov 27 06:23p

St. Louis Rams QB Nick Foles is prepared to start in Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals with QB Case Keenum (concussion) still in the concussion protocol, according to [ More ]

Travis KelceNov 27 06:13p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (groin) was limited during practice Friday, Nov. 27, and is listed as questionable for the Week 12 game against the Buffalo Bills.

Malcom FloydNov 27 06:03p

San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (shoulder) said he felt good the last few days in practice and has full range of motion in his injured left shoulder. Floyd [ More ]

Charcandrick WestNov 27 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs RB Charcandrick West (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Nov. 27, and is listed as questionable for the Week 12 game against the Buffalo Bills.

Kellen MooreNov 27 05:43p

Dallas Cowboys QB Matt Cassel is the starting quarterback again with QB Tony Romo (clavicle) out for the rest of the year. The Cowboys expect Romo to be 100% [ More ]

Tevin ColemanNov 27 05:33p

Atlanta Falcons RB Tevin Coleman will start in Week 12 against the Minnesota Vikings with RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) injured. Coleman has 59 carries for 231 yards and a [ More ]

Isaiah PeadNov 27 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Fitzgerald Toussaint was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Friday, Nov. 27, and RB Isaiah Pead was released in a corresponding move.

Malcom FloydNov 27 05:03p

San Diego Chargers TEs Antonio Gates (hip) and Ladarius Green (ankle) and WR Malcom Floyd (shoulder) are listed as probable for Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Greg ZuerleinNov 27 04:53p

St. Louis Rams PK Greg Zuerlein (groin) was added to the injury report Friday, Nov. 27, as a limited participant. He is questionable for Week 12.

Case KeenumNov 27 04:43p

St. Louis Rams QB Case Keenum (concussion) is listed as questionable for Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jarvis LandryNov 27 04:23p

Updating a previous report, Miami Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry (knee) is listed as questionable for Week 12 against the New York Jets.

A. Seferian-JenkinsNov 27 03:23p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) is listed as doubtful for Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Larry DonnellNov 27 02:43p

New York Giants TE Larry Donnell (neck) is out for Week 12.

Nolan CarrollNov 27 02:33p

Philadelphia Eagles CB Nolan Carroll (ankle) was placed on Injured Reserve Friday, Nov. 27.

Darrelle RevisNov 27 02:23p

New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis (concussion) has been ruled out for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins.

Darqueze DennardNov 27 02:23p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (shoulder) was placed on the season-ending Reserve/Injured list Friday, Nov. 27. Dennard will undergo surgery on damaged ligaments in his injured shoulder, according to a source.

Dexter McClusterNov 27 02:03p

Tennessee Titans RB Dexter McCluster (knee) didn't practice all week and has been ruled out for Week 12.

Jarvis LandryNov 27 01:53p

Miami Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry (knee) sat out of practice Friday, Nov. 27, to be ready for Week 12 Sunday, Nov. 29, according to head coach Dan Campbell.

Charcandrick WestNov 27 01:43p

Kansas City Chiefs RB Charcandrick West (hamstring) is out of practice Friday, Nov. 27.

Matt BryantNov 27 01:03p

Atlanta Falcons PK Matt Bryant (quadriceps) has been ruled out for Week 12.

Devonta FreemanNov 27 01:03p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) has been ruled out for Week 12.

Leonard HankersonNov 27 01:03p

Atlanta Falcons WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) has been ruled out for Week 12.

Tony RomoNov 27 11:43a

Updating earlier reports, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (clavicle) had a CT scan Friday, Nov. 27, that confirmed a hairline fracture in his left collarbone, and his season is [ More ]

Brent UrbanNov 27 11:03a

Baltimore Ravens RB Justin Forsett (forearm) was placed on Injured Reserve Friday, Nov. 27. DE Brent Urban (biceps) was activated from short-term Injured Reserve.

Justin ForsettNov 27 10:23a

Baltimore Ravens RB Justin Forsett (forearm) was placed on Injured Reserve Friday, Nov. 27.

Tony RomoNov 27 08:53a

Updating previous reports, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo's (clavicle) tests were inconclusive, which the team was adamant about. He'll have a CT scan Friday, Nov. 27.

Tony RomoNov 26 09:43p

Updating a previous story, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (clavicle) will have more tests on his injured left collarbone Friday, Nov. 27, but a source close to the situation [ More ]

Ameer AbdullahNov 26 09:43p

Detroit Lions RB Ameer Abdullah had 16 carries for a team-high 63 yards and one catch for 12 yards in a 45-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
Player Notes:
Forum Posts:

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group