Redskins TE Paulsen: 'gym rat' and 'lumberjack'


Redskins TE Paulsen: 'gym rat' and 'lumberjack'

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.

``Obviously you want it to happen, but I never expected it to happen,'' Paulsen said. ``I thought my role was going to be what it was - a backup and just spot duty, and maybe a second-string guy at some point. And thankfully I'm here, this is my third season and I've been able to stick around have some opportunities. I've got to capitalize on them.''

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on Thursday called Paulsen one of the coaching staff's ``favorite players,'' the football equivalent of the student who sits on the first row of the classroom and raises his hand whenever the teacher asks a question. Paulsen arrives at Redskins Park at 6:30 a.m. and usually doesn't leave until some 12 hours later.

``Logan is a gym rat. He is in this building as long as anybody,'' Kyle Shanahan said. ``He came in as an undrafted free agent who didn't have much chance to make the team. He's overachieved every year and Logan is a legit player now. He is a very good blocking tight end. He's not blowing by anybody or not really doing just a lot of one-on-one stuff. I call him the `angle king' because he takes the best angle to everywhere at every time.''

And as a pass-catcher?

``He's just reliable. He's a big target. He's a Neanderthal,'' Kyle Shanahan said. ``We joke around with him and call him that because he's just big.''

The Redskins in no way expect Paulsen to replace the numbers put up by Davis, who has more speed and athleticism. But when Griffin is scrambling around looking to make a play, the guy with the manly nicknames is easy to spot.

``I don't know if he's the new Fred - Fred's unique in his own abilities in the way he plays,'' Griffin said. ``But Logan's definitely done a good job with what we've asked him to do.''


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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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