After dropping two passes thrown his way in the first half, tight end Niles Paul rebounded with four catches and a touchdown in the second half of Saturday night’s 33-31 preseason loss at Chicago.
All but one of Paul’s catches came on Washington’s 15-play, 68-yard scoring drive that spanned portions of the third and fourth quarters.
Paul, who this year switched from wide receiver to tight end, had a one-yard catch for his first grab of the night, and then a 10-yard reception. He then scored on a five-yard catch.
On his final grab on the drive, he was matched up with a linebacker and beat him in man-to-man coverage and caught a Kirk Cousins pass on a crossing route in the end zone.
“It’s just about me getting more and more comfortable at tight end and Kirk giving me a chance to make those catches. It’s all about building my confidence,” said Paul, whose touchdown grab marked the first of his pro career, preseason or regular season. “I feel like I have an advantage on linebackers, and I was able to sell those routes like a wide receiver. I burst up the field, get them into the sixth gear where they’re running deep and take off, and I’m sitting there wide open.”
Paul said he was encouraged by the in-game adjustments he was able to make. On the missed pass from Griffin, Paul said he was running full-speed and wasn’t able to turn all the way around to snag the pass that was slightly behind him. Later in the game, however, he was running the same route when Cousins threw to him, and his timing was better so he was able to turn fully and make the catch and then pick up yards after the catch.
“I’m absolutely encouraged,” he said. “I make improvements and don’t get down on stuff like that.”