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Niles Paul’s Growth At Tight End Shows Early In 2014

Posted Oct 4, 2014

Drafted by the Redskins as a wide receiver out of Nebraska, Niles Paul has spent the past three seasons transitioning over to tight end. So far this season, his hard work has paid off.

After transitioning to tight end from wide receiver after his rookie season in 2011, Niles Paul said he feels more comfortable at his new position now than he ever has.

“I definitely do,” he said. “Even these last two years, I can honestly say, I didn’t feel like a true tight end. I didn’t think I was ready, but being with [tight ends coach] Wes [Phillips], being with [offensive coordinator] Sean [McVay] this offseason, I feel like I did everything I could to consider myself a true tight end.”

His comfort level at the position has shown in the first four games of this season.

When starter Jordan Reed went down with a hamstring injury against the Houston Texans in the season opener, Paul filled in with a four-catch, 86-yard day.

The next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Paul hauled in his first touchdown since the 2012 season on a day in which he would establish career highs in receptions (8) and receiving yards (99).

And, before leaving the team’s Week 4 game against the New York Giants with what was later diagnosed as a concussion, Paul had collected 60 receiving yards in less than two quarters of action.

While catching the ball may be something he’s done since his was a youth football player, Paul admitted that learning the ropes of the tight end position took a lot more than just catching the ball from a different stance along the line of scrimmage.

“There’s a lot more inside routes,” he said. “I never played slot or anything like that. I was always an outside X-position receiver. Santana Moss and those guys will tell you themselves, when you move inside it’s a different world because you get banged up by everybody.

“A linebacker could hit you, an end could hit you, you get checked and you have to be aware.

Paul said he learned “it’s hard to get in and out of your routes coming from a three-point stance.”

“So it took some getting used to that,” he said. “Because everything seemed a lot quicker, a lot more rushed, instead of having the time to get open.”

Another reason Paul has been able to have success this season – he had the 12th-most receiving yards in the NFL entering Week 5 – is due to a change in both his training regimen and his diet.

“I had to put on a lot of weight, and at one in point in time, I felt like I put on too much weight,” he admitted. “It was about finding a comfortable weight where I was still big enough to be down in the trenches with those guys, but I’m still fast enough to where things can play to my advantage.

Paul – who currently weighs 235 pounds – also worked with team dietitian Rob Skinner and head chef Jon Mathieson to add certain foods to his diet.

“I just made a more conscious effort to eat a little better when it comes to eating more greens. Jon does an excellent job down there taking care of it.”

As the Redskins continue to build on offense, Paul wants to make the most of all opportunities given to him, continuing Monday against the Seahawks, should he be cleared to return.

“I just want to do whatever it takes to help this team win,” he said.

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