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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Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles


Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

WASHINGTON -- A teenager among men, Juan Soto has impressed his teammates on the Washington Nationals with his maturity and, even more so, his potent bat.

Soto hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning, and Washington beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Thursday night in the deciding matchup of a three-game interleague series between neighboring rivals.

Soto, a 19-year-old rookie, is batting .326 with 16 RBIs in 28 games. Starting in the cleanup spot for the first time, he drew a walk and delivered the game's pivotal hit.

"I think we're all amazed every single day," Washington ace Max Scherzer said. "He puts together great ABs. He has antics and has some flair. He's a great young player. He's just enjoying himself."

Bryce Harper led off the eighth with a double off Mychal Givens (0-4) and Trea Turner followed with a single. After Anthony Rendon struck out, Soto hit a liner into the gap in left-center.

"He's got unbelievable poise," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Soto. "No matter what the situation is, he goes out there with a game plan."

Whatever that plan is, it's effective.

"I just try to be focused and keep working," Soto said.

Rendon homered for the Nationals, who received seven strong innings from Scherzer and flawless work from their bullpen.

Newcomer Kelvin Herrera (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Sean Doolittle got three straight outs for his 20th save in 21 tries.

Seeking to end a rare run of two straight losses, Scherzer left a tied game after allowing two runs -- both on solo homers -- and striking out nine.

Afterward, the right-hander heaped praise upon Soto for the manner in which he's adapted to playing in the big leagues.

"He has a great feel for the strike zone," Scherzer said. "To have that type of eye, it's remarkable for him to be able to do that at this time and this age and this level."

Activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, Colby Rasmus homered for the Orioles in his first at-bat since April 6.

"Me and Max, we go way back, so I felt real good," said Rasmus, who had been sidelined with a hip injury.

In addition, Rasmus made an outstanding throw from right field to the plate, nailing Wilmer Difo on a tag-up play in the seventh inning with the score tied.

Mark Trumbo also homered for Baltimore, his sixth of the season and third in four games.

Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman gave up two runs and four hits over six innings. The right-hander was lifted with the score tied, leaving him winless in his last seven starts.


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How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense helps him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”


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