LANDOVER, Md. — Because of the emergence of Jordan Reed, the surprising production from Vernon Davis and a few major injuries in his last two seasons, Niles Paul has become somewhat of a forgotten option amongst the Redskins tight ends.
But on Saturday night against the Packers, the 28-year-old displayed the well-rounded game he has that makes him Washington's most versatile option at the position.
Early in the first quarter, No. 84 raced down field on special teams and recovered a muffed Green Bay punt. Then, midway through the third quarter, Paul reeled in a difficult 16-yard touchdown from Colt McCoy that required some impressive body control and hands:
Afterward, he walked JP Finlay through what was the Redskins' biggest offensive highlight from the matchup (video above).
"I knew I had the linebacker man-to-man and I was just hoping [Colt] was looking at me," Paul said. "He was, and he gave me an opportunity ball and I made the most of it."
Tight end might just be the 'Skins' deepest position, and the one that'll be hardest to sort through come cutdown day. Reed and Davis are locks, but behind them, there's Paul, Derek Carrier, Jeremy Sprinkle and EJ Bibbs battling for probably only two spots.
What makes Paul such an appealing player, though, is exactly what he showed Saturday. He can be a threat as a receiver when needed (landing on injured reserve in 2015 and 2016, plus working behind the two stars ahead of him, has caused some to forget that) and he always brings it on specials.
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That essentially allows the Redskins to fill two roles with one guy, and that's why he's so valuable to them. He's quite ready to prove that value again, too.
"I'm extremely anxious," Paul said about returning to the field for some real action. "I got my season cut in half last year, I just want to be back on the field by any means necessary. I've just been missing it, I've been missing football in my life."
The Burgundy and Gold have surely been missing Paul during the times he's been hurt recently as well. If his effort vs. the Packers was a hint of what's to come, however, the team will soon remember what it's like to have a tight end as multitalented as him at their disposal.