Holden and Danny were joined Friday by drafted wide receiver-turned tight end, Niles Paul of your Washington Redskins.
With an aging and oft-injured Chris Cooley, and a Fred Davis one repeated mistake away from a one year suspension, it was clear Coach Shanahan had to come up with some insurance for the athletic end of his line. Listed at 6-1, 224 lbs. on the team’s website, Niles has been packing on the pounds this off-season to beef up for a heartier role in the offense.
The immediate question is what kind of tight end does Shanahan want his young star to be as he enters his second season out of Nebraska?
“I was actually just as curious as you guys were as to what I was going to be doing, exactly at tight end. Coach Shanahan informed me that I am a full-blown tight end. I will be combo blocking, and cut blocking and I’ll be making reads and I’ll be lining up in the 3-point stance.”
Learning a new position is never easy for ball-handlers who generally have played one or two positions their entire lives, but Paul says that, albeit “if-y” about it upon first hearing of the move, as OTA’s have progressed he has become increasingly more comfortable with it, and hungry for the new challenge.
Niles was relatively quiet with the media through his rookie campaign, but his stellar performance in chance opportunities on the field left fans wanting to know more about him. And given the rare opportunity, Holden and Danny delved into Paul’s life to try to inform D.C. more about him. Paul confirmed a story that he actually did quit the game of football as an adolescent, but perhaps for a deeper reason than he had let on.
“I did quit the game of football, but the reason why I quit it, was because growing up my mom used to make me play it. My mom had passed and I never really wanted to play football in the first place; I thought I was a basketball player.”
Paul went on to say that after his mother’s death, he moved to Newport News, Virginia where he was a starter on the basketball team his Freshman year of high school. But as fate would have it, a year later he returned home where his uncle gave him the option to play either football or run cross-country…no more basketball.
Everything coming full circle, that uncle was former Packers running back Ahman Green. Niles said Uncle Green told him to be realistic about how many star basketball players he’s seen come out of Nebraska, hammering away the importance of getting a scholarship. Low and behold, after recommitting to the sport of football, that’s exactly what he did.
The personal information did not stop with that. Paul explained away the noisy background that was interfering with the interview as the impossible distraction of the airport. He was in the airport because he just happened to be coming back from college and pro teammate, Roy Helu’s wedding, which he attended with also-college and pro teammate DeJon Gomes.
Oh, and by the way, during the general discourse of the discussion Niles revealed that he has gained 12 pounds of muscle this offseason, weighing in at 236 pounds. It seems he is taking this role change pretty seriously.
You can follow Niles Paul on Twitter: @Niles_Paul84