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Steelers TE David Paulson still a work in progress

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Steelers' backup David Paulson didn't have an impressive 2012 season and still needs to improve his skills as a blocking tight end for Pittsburgh.

Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY Sport

One of the more quiet additions to the Steelers roster was their 3rd string tight end David Paulson. He probably only caught the seven passes listed on his stat sheet for 51 yards because Steelers tight end/fullback David Johnson was lost for the year during preseason. He's also smaller than the injured starter Heath Miller, listed an inch shorter and ten pounds lighter.

That size disadvantage may seem insignificant on paper, but it was apparent when he needed to block for Pittsburgh during last season. That was also apparent when matched up with Steelers rookie first round draft pick Jarvis Jones, as the former Georgia player tossed around Paulson with ease. Tomlin got on Paulson after Jones beat him, but the soft-spoken tight-end kept his cool and took it in stride.

Paulson was drafted for his soft hands that he showed off while at Oregon University where he put together over 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in his last two seasons. Tight ends coach James Daniels saw him as a solid pickup for a seventh rounder, and maybe he was, but to be effective in the Steelers offense as a tight end, you have to block.

Granted that Jarvis Jones was drafted so high specifically so he could beat better blockers than Paulson, but that doesn't excuse the tight end from any losses he may take on the line of scrimmage. If he wants to be a player who shoulders part of the load while Miller is injured, he can't afford to be a liability in run blocking schemes or pass protection.

His soft hands show promise that he may be a receiving threat for Ben Roethlisberger, and his quiet demeanor is a signal that maybe he could keep his head down and develop into a solid role player for the team. But as of today, this tight end needs to continue working on his skills at the line of scrimmage.

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