Steelers Final Game Against The Browns Will Be A Meaningful One For David Paulson

It was announced on Monday by Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin that veteran tight end Heath Miller would miss the season finale against the Cleveland Browns because of the serious knee injury that he suffered Sunday in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. That news now means that rookie David Paulson will most likely be called upon to fill his shoes.

Paulson, one the Steelers four seventh round draft picks this past April, enters the game Sunday against the Browns with just 7 receptions on the season for 51 yards. He has played just over 260 snaps on offense this season in the Steelers two and three tight end personnel groupings, but hasn\’t been overly impressive when it comes to the run blocking portion of his game. That isn\’t too surprising, however, being as he wasn\’t asked to do too much in-line blocking while at Oregon.

With Miller likely to be sidelined until the team reports to training camp next year, it is very important that the Steelers coaching staff gets a good luck at Paulson on Sunday. If after the season they deem him  to be a career backup tight end they will most likely have to look to the draft in April again to find one they can begin to groom as an heir apparent to Miller, who will be entering his ninth season next year and coming off the first serious injury of his career.

Paulson was an all-Pacific-12 Conference second team selection in his final season with the Ducks where he caught 67 passes for 1,041 yards and 10 touchdowns in 40 career games. 31 of those catches came in his senior season and his poor showing at the NFL combine back in February resulted in him being a final round prospect.

The game Sunday against the Browns might be a meaningless one for the Steelers as far as needing a win to make the playoffs, but it will be a meaningful one for Paulson, and several other young Steelers players at the bottom of the roster.

  • Henry

    Heath has another 5 years left. Don’t need to worry about a replacement.

  • Steelhawk55

    Its not about replacing Heath. Its about him possibly not being ready for the beginning of next year and us only having two other TEs on the roster(not counting Pope). Those two are Paulson, a 7th rd rookie and DJ who is a FB/TE and is on IR since camp from a knee injury.

  • Reader783

    Exactly. At this point, he won’t be ready for camp and the preseason and is a stretch for the first few weeks, so they need to know what they have in the interim.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Hey if we do get ride of Wallace(hoping we don’t) what do you guys think about Greg Jennings if the Packers don’t keep him that or even if Wallace doesn’t leave, maybe to show our receivers a thing or two, i dunno what do you guys say?

  • Reader783

    I wish. No chance we could afford him though.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Paulson is about as significant as who will b our deep snapper next season. Backup TEs can b found & we hav a long offseason to get one, then we’ll read the raving college stats of the next 7th rounder. Slight advantage is Paulson has a year of Haley’s playbook, but Haley might not b back anyway.

  • TraceGamble

    Paulson needs to get a whole lot stronger to be effective for the Steelers. He gets pushed around often by LBs his size on run plays. He can learn to be better and grow into the role, though.

  • TraceGamble

    Why won’t Mike Wallace try to tackle anyone after interceptions? If he tackles Brandon Carr during Dallas game, Cowboys have 30+ yards to go before field goal, which would have given D chance to save the game. Tired of #17’s antics.

  • LouPGH

    I disagree with much of the sentiment in the post and the comments. As we saw this year with Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson, guys can fully recover from ACL injuries and perform at incredibly high levels.

    Plus, it’s a whole lot easier to get a guy bigger/stronger than it is to teach him talent. Paulson has already exceeded expectations. They liked him enough to cut Saunders. Unless he completely screws the pooch this week, I expect he will get his chance early next season to prove he can replace Heath if/when that time comes. And, like I said, I don’t think this is it for Heath.

    Finally, there are enough other holes that will require immediately filling. In addition, right now, it looks like the only TE projected in the First Round is the kid from ND, and we will be drafting too high to take him. Thus, I don’t expect the Steelers to look for a starting TE in this year’s draft, unless someone fell into their laps a la Decastro (but in Round Two or Three).