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Paul Has A Team Of Tight End Mentors

Posted Jun 8, 2012

Niles Paul may be new to the tight end position, but he has a team of mentors ready to help him get acclimated.

Niles Paul officially converted to tight end eight weeks ago, but already feels at home on the offensive line.

On Thursday, his teammates and coaches gave glowing reports on his development.

"A lot of other guys that can run, can catch and have that speed, aren’t very good blockers," said head coach Mike Shanahan. "I think he’ll be able to do both."

Paul was a featured target in OTA's, working the sidelines and over the middle, showing a gritty determination in the red zone.

"I think Niles has been fantastic," said fellow tight end Chris Cooley.  "Niles has the opportunity to be a tremendous player.  He's doing a lot of things right.

"We made the move over the offseason, because he was such a physical player.  I think the way a lot of our staff looks at him is as the next Shannon Sharpe."

It's a lofty comparison to measure Paul against a Hall of Fame tight end, but the players are comparable.

Sharpe was a late-round wide receiver out of Savannah State that converted to tight end under Shanahan in Denver.

The only difference?

"Paul is like Shannon Sharpe, but faster," fullback Darrel Young described.  "He is the next Shannon Sharpe, and you can quote me on that."

Earlier this week, Shanahan invited Sharpe to Redskins Park to address the team--especially Paul.  Sharpe's words of wisdom hit home for the fledgling tight end.

"Sharpe told me that I’m a smaller guy and I’m not going to win every battle," Paul recalled.  "My role is to protect the running back and the quarterback.  As long as I’m doing my job, that’s all that matters."

Under Shanahan, Sharpe caught 675 of his 815 career receptions, for 8,439 of his 10,060 career yards, and 55 of his 62 touchdowns.  He was Shanahan's premiere pupil at the position, but Fred Davis and Cooley have also had success in the system, and are also at Paul's disposal.

For what it's worth, Cooley thinks Paul has what it takes to excel.

"Niles is a competitor, he's a worker. He has all of it," Cooley said.  "He's explosive, he's learning, and he's getting better."

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