In each of the past three years, Niles Paul has made progress in his transformation from wide receiver to tight end.
This offseason, he completed that transformation.
Paul gained 14 pounds and now checks in at 6 foot 1, 252-pounds. The reason? The added weight, he said, should help him hold his blocks more effectively.
“I know an area I wanted to improve on a lot was blocking. I was always a willing blocker, but I was 230-pounds going against guys who were 260, 270, 280,” said Paul, who weighed 238 pounds in 2014. “I just wanted to level out the playing field a little bit. And it has showed up on film out here [in OTAs]. I’ve been doing a good job.”
Paul said the additional weight has impacted his running less than he had anticipated.
“I was a little nervous that I was a little too heavy,” the 25-year-old said. “But I’m moving better than I ever have.”
Gaining 14 pounds wasn’t as easy as simply increasing his food intake—though that was a big part of it. Paul said it was the result of changing his routine in the weight room and being more conscious of what he was eating.
“I got to give credit to Coach [Mike] Clark and Chef Jon [Mathieson],” Paul said, referring to the team’s new strength and conditioning coach and the Redskins' executive chef. “I’ve just been eating a lot of protein and working out. We’re doing a lot of different lifts as compared to [former strength coach Ray Wright]. I loved Ray Wright. I loved his workouts. But we’ve got a different coach now who believes in different stuff. We’re doing a lot of Olympic lifts.”
Last season, Paul served as an anchor on special teams. But he also saw his workload on offense increase—significantly—because oft-injured Jordan Reed missed five games. As a result of the increased playing time, Paul produced career numbers and was rewarded with a three-year, $6 million contract in March.
Since the start of OTAs, Paul has, once again, seen increased reps as Reed recovers from a knee procedure. Reed is expected to be ready for training camp, but in the meantime, Paul is getting an opportunity to show the coaching staff just how much he's benefiting from the increased bulk.
“I may not be 230-pounds-fast like I was,” Paul said. “But I’m still fast enough where I have an advantage.”