RICHMOND — Back on the field after a November shoulder surgery that ended his 2016 season prematurely, tight end Niles Paul is having a strong camp.

With Jordan Reed still shelved by a toe injury, Paul has served as the primary pass-catching tight end. But the versatility that has made him valuable during his six-year career remains. Paul — originally drafted as a wide receiver in 2011 (only three players have been on the team longer) — also has lined up at fullback and on most special teams units.

After last year’s injury, and a 2015 preseason injury that cost him the entire season, Paul says he’s just happy to be healthy again, and he has relished every day of training camp. In today’s training camp Q&A, Paul talks about a much-needed offseason getaway, and the healthy mind-set he has entering Year 7 of the NFL.

How was your offseason? What would you describe as the highlight?
“It was great. Highlight of my offseason would probably be going to Thailand. I wasn’t a fan of Bangkok. But when we went to Phuket and kind of went island hopping, I was kind of fascinated. It was peaceful. Just to get away and be somewhere foreign where no one knows how to speak your language and you’re a foreigner, you just have to find your way.”

How did you pick Thailand?
A friend told me that he and a couple of people were going there. I really don’t like traveling by myself, especially internationally, so I told him I’d go with him.”

How did you handle the language barrier?
“We made the most of it. We had a Google voice app on my phone; used that and made the most of it.”

And that worked well enough to get by? Talk into it and it helped you speak Thai?
“I would let them talk into it and it would translate, or if I had something to say, or I’d say into it and let it translate. It was a great thing.”

What were some of your favorite sights?
It was just all the tourist destinations as far as the views. They had so many views you could walk up to or drive up to, and it was some amazing views. They had all these big Buddha statues. It was pretty dope.”

Was this trip different from many of your other trips?
“Yeah, I usually try to go somewhere every year. But this was my first time that I went somewhere that wasn’t an NFL type of event. I just went and kind of backpacked it through Thailand.”

What was the biggest thing you gained from this trip?
It was just so peaceful. In a world that’s so chaotic, I know I look for that moment of peace to silence everything.”

How long were you gone, and were you ready to come back?
“Went for a week. It was just right, because I get homesick after a while. I needed to get back to my house. Then, I just settled back into the real world, got back to working out. You miss it but you learn to appreciate where you are.”

How do you feel mentally entering your seventh season?
“Mentally, I feel unbreakable. I’ve been through so many ups and downs this past couple years as far as injuries that I just feel now that I’m ready to come out here and play ball.”

You talked about feeling unbreakable now. Did overcoming season-ending injuries in back-to-back years boost your confidence because you know you can handle adversity?
“Personally, up until that point, all my life, I’d never been hurt. Unfortunately, the football bug got me, but it was trying mentally for me because I’ve never had the game taken away from me, and not being able to play it while it’s in season. So now I’m just ready to play football.”

Do you feel like your old self, or not quite, or better?
“I feel better than my old self. Surprisingly, I’ve come to camp and I’m gaining weight, in a good way. I don’t know how you do that in camp, but I guess it’s because I’m eating three full meals a day. I’m at 248, and I feel real good. I’m blocking real good. I’m catching the ball, getting in and out of breaks. And still have my speed. I thank [strength coaches] Chad Englehart and Deuce Gruden and everybody in the weight room for that.”

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