But with today’s complex passing schemes in the NFL, the tight end has evolved into a major force with the ball in his hands. It’s an aspect of his game that Paulsen, the third-year Redskins tight end, works on daily.
“I think with the way the league’s going right now, a lot of guys say, ‘I want to be a playmaker in the offense. I want to have the opportunity to catch a football, score touchdowns,’” Paulsen said. “But I think there’s still a role – or I hope there’s still a role – for guys who want to do both.”
Monday’s training camp practice featured two prime examples of Paulsen’s evolution into the Redskins’ passing schemes.
On one play, Paulsen beat his defender on a seam up the middle and was found in stride by quarterback
On the very next play, Paulsen had to adjust when a
“I just ran the routes like the coaches call, the quarterbacks gave me good throws, and all I had to do was catch it,” Paulsen said. “They might be big plays, but it’s ones the offense expect me to make.”
Last season, Paulsen got invaluable on-field experience after injuries and suspensions to others propelled him from third-string to the starting lineup by the end of the year.
Paulsen appeared in every game in 2011, starting six, and set career highs in snaps, receptions and yards – catching three passes for more than 20 yards – and continued to evolve and improve as a blocking tight end.
“I think just playing against better guys and playing within the offense and being in the huddle and all those different things, you learn all those tricks of the trade,” Paulsen said. “I’ve been able to take from that experience and bring it to this year. I’m really thankful for that.”
Over the offseason, Paulsen adopted an intense running regimen, designed to relax him while running routes.
“I’d get on the treadmill and just run at a fast pace, just work on my stride and the interval of stride and things like that,” Paulsen said. “The second you tighten up, you run slower.”
Paulsen also focused on the fundamentals of the game, including running crisper routes and catching the football.
“I tried to improve in every aspect of my game, as a physical run-blocker and as a pass catcher,” he said. “I think I’ve just grown as a football player, in developing my overall football IQ and my athleticism.”
After all, it’s not the plays that Paulsen made that he thinks about at the end of the day. It’s the ones that got away.
“Wish I would’ve made one more big catch today,” Paulsen said. “But that’s why we have tomorrow.”