The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

July 29, 2013

Role will increase for Steelers' tight end

LATROBE — David Paulson stood on practice field No. 1 on Sunday afternoon, the second-year Pittsburgh Steelers tight end standing next to All-Pro teammate Heath Miller while the two watched one of Miller’s children do their own imitation of a 40-yard dash.

Slouched over a bit, flushed cheeks making the 24-year-old Paulson look a decade younger, Paulson looked a bit like Miller’s little brother. And in a way, perhaps he is.

While Miller remains on the physically unable to perform list as he continues to recover from a gruesome left knee injury last season, the timeline on Paulson’s apprenticeship is speeding up.

In the span of a year, the soft-spoken kid taken as a seventh-round flier in the 2012 draft is possibly the team’s best pass catching option until Miller returns.

Not that Paulson wants to talk about it.

Even after catching a handful of passes from Ben Roethlisberger – including a diving grab in front of LaMarr Woodley – during a seven-on-seven drill on the second day of training camp, Paulson shrugs his shoulders and looks at the ground when asked to discuss his rise up the depth chart in 12 short months.

“I’m a little more comfortable and I know what to expect out of training camp,” said Paulson, who caught seven passes in limited playing time in 2012. “I know the offense. I’m more comfortable with the people here.”

Certainly looks like it.

Then again, Paulson’s always been able to get his hands on the football. He caught 67 passes for 1,041 and 10 touchdowns in his final two years at Oregon.

Lining up in the slot, Paulson used his 6-foot-4 body to create matchup problems with opposing linebackers and safeties in the Ducks’ up-tempo attack.

The Steelers saw enough on film to grab Paulson with the 240th pick in the draft even though Miller is in the midst of a stellar career and veterans David Johnson and Leonard Pope were on the roster.

Tight ends coach James Daniels’ recommendation to General Manager Kevin Colbert when Daniels saw Paulson’s name still on the board was simple.

“I thought he was a really good football player,” Daniels said. “I thought he was better than a seventh-round pick for sure.”

Rounding out the edges, however, will take some time. Paulson spent his entire college career off the line of scrimmage. He was adequate as a blocker, but it wasn’t exactly the most important part of his job.

If Paulson wants to become an every-down player in the NFL, it will have to be. At 246 pounds, Paulson allows he’s a hardly a “monster.”

While he’s tried to put “good weight” on, it hasn’t been easy. And while Daniels believes Paulson has taken a step forward when it comes to moving defenders around in close quarters, there’s still plenty of work to be done.

Just in case Paulson needed a reminder, rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones provided one during the first practice in pads on Monday.

Left all alone to contend with Jones, Paulson was pushed around with ease by the player the Steelers hope will one day fill the void of menace left by the cutting of former All-Pro James Harrison.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gave Paulson an earful, though if it affected Paulson in any way it didn’t show. It rarely does.

During his first training camp last summer, Paulson took a pounding but kept getting back to his feet. It’s that resilience that allays any concerns Daniels has about Paulson’s ability to improve.

“He won some battles for us at the line of scrimmage last year and he didn’t win some,” Daniels said. “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.”

The key for the Steelers will be to pick the battles it sends Paulson into. Veteran Matt Spaeth was brought back in free agency to serve as the masher. Yet Paulson needs to be effective enough as a blocker so that he doesn’t tip off defenses.

“We don’t want the defense to be able to say, ‘This guy’s in they’re throwing it. This guy’s in, they’re running it,”’ Daniels said. “That’s what we’ve challenged him with and that’s what he’s striving to be.”

For all his boyish looks, Paulson is an ardent student of the game, drawing praise from Miller and Spaeth for his maturity.

“He’s not really a guy you have to take under your wing and show him the ropes,” Spaeth said. “He’s just professional in how he does everything.”

Notes: The Steelers practiced for the first time in pads on Monday, a workout highlighted by the “backs on backers” drill where a running back attempts to block a blitzing linebacker. Jones clashed with second-rounder RB Le’Veon Bell four times. Bell got the better of Jones on three occasions and also held his own against starters Woodley and Lawrence Timmons. “It was tense,” Bell said. “It was something new and something I have to get used to. A lot different in college, but I think I had a pretty good day.” . Cornerbacks Cortez Allen (knee) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) were held out for the second straight practice and their injuries are characterized day to day. ... The Steelers will not practice today. Workouts resume Wednesday afternoon at St. Vincent College and are open to the public.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Penguins 0419 Blue Jackets outlast Pens in double-OT

    Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
    Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0419 Brewers rally to clip Pirates

    Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
    Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Area runners gearing for Boston Marathon

    The time was 12:15 p.m. It was Monday April 19, 1897.  Tom Burke had drawn a line across the dirt road with his foot. Eighteen men gathered near Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, Massachusetts.

    April 19, 2014

  • SRU vs UPJ baseball0418 1 UPJ takes one, drops second

    John Fees’ spring baseball season accurately mirrors that of his Pitt-Johnstown team.
    Fees started slow, losing his first four decisions, but has rebounded nicely in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0418 Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drama lacking sans Tiger

    If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a 5-foot putt.
    The course was there in all its splendor.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penguins 0418 Penguins are wary of spunky Blue Jackets

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Briefs

    April 17, 2014

AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide