Steelers Coach Has Confidence In TE David Paulson As He Enters His Second Season

As a rookie, Pittsburgh Steelers second-year tight end David Paulson, thanks in part to his slight build and boyish face, looked more like a high school tight end than he did a player who caught 67 passes for 1,041 yards and 10 touchdowns during his time at Oregon. Now, with one year of pro football experience under his belt and noticeable offseason work in the weight room, Paulson now at least looks the part of an NFL tight end.

With veteran tight end Heath Miller likely be sidelined on the PUP list for all the preseason and possibly longer, Paulson and fellow tight end Matt Spaeth are receiving quite a few reps during training camp. Spaeth of course is an accomplished blocking tight end, but not a big threat in the passing game. Paulson, at least during his rookie season, was the exact opposite. In 2013, each will have to improve in the areas that they are weakest if the offense doesn\’t want to be predictable until Miller is fully healthy.

Despite Paulson\’s inability to establish himself as a good inline blocker as a rookie, something he really wasn\’t forced to do while at Oregon, Steelers tight ends coach James Daniels still has confidence in the 2012 seventh-round draft pick.

“He won some battles for us at the line of scrimmage last year and he didn\’t win some,” Daniels told Will Graves of the Associated Press. “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.”

In 2012, Paulson, who wasted no time in overtaking the ineffective Leonard Pope on the depth chart, played 316 snaps on offense. While he was on the field, however, the Steelers offense only averaged 3.3 yards per carry as opposed to 3.81 yards when he was on the sideline. While Paulson wasn\’t the primary cause of the running game being even more infective than it already was while he was on the field, he had his share of ineffectiveness.

One of the big things that we will be looking for during the upcoming preseason games is whether or not the year of experience and the extra work in the weight room has paid off in the blocking department for Paulson, who according to Graves has problems putting weight on. If he isn\’t able to show some marked improvement in that area, and if Miller\’s recovery extends into the regular season, it could be bumpy start to the season for the Steelers running game.

Paulson, who really doesn\’t appear to be a big talker, did give Graves an idea of where his head\’s at now that his second training camp is underway.

“I\’m a little more comfortable and I know what to expect out of training camp,” Paulson said. “I know the offense. I\’m more comfortable with the people here.”

Hopefully Paulson\’s also more comfortable turning defensive ends and outside linebackers out of the running lanes as the Steelers really need him to block more like an NFL tight end this year than the high school tight end that he looked like last year.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • falconsaftey43

    If Paulson could turn into a well rounded TE, that would go a long way to helping the offense. He doesn’t need to be starter capable, just a solid 2nd TE. I think he and W. Johnson along with some of the backs can help to pick up the slack until Miller returns. Then Ben should have more weapons than he needs.

  • charles

    Blocking is a coachable asset. Good hands are not. Paulson should be able to get better at blocking and is the heir apparent to Heath.

  • dgh57

    Paulson needs to step it up as a receiving TE also (and I think he will from the reports I’ve heard about his good hands)because we need to give defenses something else to think about in the passing game even after Miller comes back. If he has indeed bulked up then the blocking should follow as it’s coachable.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    It does make me wonder if Paulsen’s improvements factored at all into the decision to draft Jarvis Jones over Tyler Eifert? I realize the Steelers coaches had Jones ranked higher, but they also drafted a lot for need this year. OLB, RB, WR, SS in the first 4 rounds. It seems as though the Steelers feel more comfortable with the back up TE’s than they do with the back up OLB’s.

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    I had a similar thought and actually still wonder about Jones.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I’m sure it did, but I think they also felt Miller would be able to comeback at some point during the season making OLB a greater need.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I have really wondered where all those targets to Miller were going to go after the injury…on the blocking…I don’t think he’ll ever be great at it (most receiving TEs aren’t great blockers), but the added bulk/strength and a yr of experience should help in that area.

  • steeltown

    That plus they had already signed Matt Spaeth prior to the draft and D.Johnson was also coming back for another turn and they were comfortable with Will Johnson as well, then factor that with the idea that Miller might be able to return week 1 and it did make LB more of a need

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Keep this in mind Heath Miller is entering his contract year too and is 31 coming off torn ACL. While I love both as prospects, it makes more sense financially to draft Eifert considering Worilds (who Jarvis Jones still can steal the PT from) would have likely came cheaper compared to Heath Miller.

    Again its just an outlook from salary cap issues not talent-wise.

  • steeltown

    Miller wont be a UFA till 2015 so if he returns to form, IMO just like Ben I expect Miller to be given a contract extension next offseason (if he returns to form) which will help lower his 2014 cap hit, which was set to be the final year of the deal with the highest paid out

  • Shea Fahr

    Definitely.