Niles Paul as Possible Return Man in 2012?
- Updated: July 10, 2012
We were lucky enough to have Niles Paul join us on the podcast tonight to discuss his conversion from wide receiver to tight end, as well as to answer some questions. One interesting conversation that rose, was how his name has been included as the possible return man.
Niles Paul is no stranger to special teams, as that’s where he played the majority of the 2011 season in Washington. If you remember, he laid quite a few monstrous hits in games, especially the one against St. Louis where some questionable flags were thrown because their (St. Louis) return man was exploiting the “defenseless receiver” rule by not calling for a fair catch.
While fans have argued that current returner Brandon Banks should return for the Redskins in 2012, the one problem that rises is he has not been able to shine outside of special teams. He has proven he cannot play wide receiver in the NFL, and the times he does join the offense, defenses know a trick play is likely going to happen. Whether that be the wildcat, such as in 2010 against the Minnesota Vikings, or the reverse pass against the Patriots this past season.
Brandon Banks has the speed, but his size has been a major detriment. Even Mike Shanahan told Banks if he plans on making the roster this season, he’s going to need to play wide receiver. While Banks has gained around 10 pounds, he has an uphill battle as he will be competing for the slot position. A position that is locked down by two veterans, Santana Moss and Joshua Morgan.
Now you throw Niles Paul into the mix. A wide receiver who has converted to tight end, but still has the speed for a returner. During his time at Nebraska, Niles Paul returned for a total of 1,879 yards. Perhaps Mike Shanahan was not only looking at him as a wide receiver (at the time) when he drafted him, but also as a return specialist.
During the 2011 preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Niles Paul made it quite clear how fast of player he could be. During Brandon Banks’ touchdown return (which ultimately saved him a spot on the roster), Niles Paul was a good 20 plus yards behind him as Banks crossed the 50 yard line, yet by the time he crossed the goal line, Paul was right next to him making blocks.
Niles Paul said that Mike Shanahan told him, “You’ll be a tight end, but you could also return.” Needless to say, thanks to his time returning at Nebraska, Paul said he would “gladly” take the role as the returner, but as of right now he’s just the “off returner” according to special teams coach, Danny Smith.