ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Logan Paulsen played both tight end and defensive end at Chaminade College Preparatory School in Northridge, Calif. He even set a school record with 24 sacks in his junior season.
In his freshman year at UCLA, the two-way player became a one-way player. One overriding factor made it a simple decision.
"The moment I realized I couldn't play defense is when I figured I didn't know how to tackle," Paulsen said. "I never, like, learned that skill, so I had to play offense."
Today he is the No. 1 tight end for the Washington Redskins, a job title even he never thought he'd own — yet he has it for a second time. In just the last week, the 6-foot-5 rugged-looking athlete with long hair sometimes tied in a bun has been publicly called a "gym rat," a "lumberjack" and a "Neanderthal."
With Fred Davis out with a torn Achilles and Chris Cooley working his way back into playing shape after being re-signed, Paulsen has claimed the starting job ahead of Niles Paul and has caught four passes from Robert Griffin III in each of the last two games.
"He's a heady player. You can see it out there when he makes plays," Griffin said. "He's hard to tackle. He looks like a lumberjack out there."
Finding pass-catchers for Griffin has been more of a challenge than anticipated in the Heisman Trophy winner's first season. Injuries to Davis and wideout Pierre Garcon, who remains sidelined with a foot injury, have left Griffin without a prime go-to target, leaving him to spread the ball around to Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Joshua Morgan and others, with varying success. Coach Mike Shanahan counted 10 drops in Sunday's 27-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he says that second-year receiver Aldrick Robinson will get more playing time in this week's game against the Carolina Panthers.
Enter Paulsen, primarily a blocking tight end who got some starts at the end of the last season when Cooley was hurt and Davis was suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Paulsen was all prepared to revert to the No. 3 spot again this season until circumstances intervened to move him back to the top.
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