August 20, 2019

Washington Redskins 2014 Season Preview Part V: Tight Ends

All this week leading up to the Washington Redskins 2014 season opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 7, District Sports Page is taking an in-depth look at the players that will make up the 53-man roster to start the season in a position-by-position breakdown.

In Part I, Neal Dalal took a look at the Quarterback position.
In Part II, Eric Hobeck examined the situation at running back.
In Part III, Joe Mercer previewed the wide receiver corps.
In Part IV, Joe Ziegengeist evaluated the offensive line.

Here now is Part V, a review of the tight ends.


Jordan Reed at training camp in 2013 (photo by Brian Murphy)

Jordan Reed at training camp in 2013 (photo by Brian Murphy)

The National Football League is an ever-evolving animal.

This has not been more evident than over the past few seasons thanks to the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis, and Jimmy Graham, all of whom have redefined what a tight end in the NFL is and should be.

Sure, athletic tight ends are nothing new, with Kellen Winslow Sr., John Mackey, and Ozzie Newsome paving the way for Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzales, and Shannon Sharpe, but a new breed of tight end are changing the way the position is played.

And defended.

Riding the wake created by Gonzales, Gates, and others that include Dallas Clark and Jason Witten, the tight end position has become amongst the most important on the field, and hardest for a defense to contain.

In 2011, one-third of players finishing in the top 15 in receptions were tight ends. Witten hauled in 110 catches in 2012, while Graham posted 86 receptions and a mindboggling 16 touchdowns in 2013.

Drafted in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, it didn’t take long for Jordan Reed to prove he belongs, posting 45 receptions for 499 yards and three TDs in an injury-shortened rookie campaign.

Reed, who suffered a sprained thumb late in preseason but is expected to play when Washington opens the season in Houston on Sunday, set a franchise record by a rookie TE with a nine-catch, 134-yard, one-TD game against the Bears on his way to being named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team.

Reed’s size and speed make him almost uncoverable — too big for defensive backs and too fast for linebackers — and if that’s not scary enough for opposing defensive coordinators, the addition of speed demons DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts will spread the field, creating pockets for the talented Reed to run free.

Although he won’t put up the same monster numbers as Graham in New Orleans, it is hard to imagine Reed catching anything less than 70, with six to 10 TDs. As long as he stays healthy, he will lead the team in touchdown receptions.

Considered more of a blocker than a pass-catching threat, Logan Paulsen filled in for the injured Reed in 2013, finishing with a career-high in receptions (28) and TDs (3).

Although not gifted with speed, Paulsen has become proficient in using his 6’5” 260 lbs frame to create mismatches on smaller defenders. He has sound hands and can make the tough catch.

Saying that receiver-turned-tight end Niles Paul has been a failed experiment would be putting it lightly.

A standout on special teams, the swift-footed Paul managed a career-high eight catches for 152 yards in 2012, but managed only four behind Reed and Paulsen in 2013.

The Redskins drafted Ted Bolser out of Indiana in the seventh-round of the 2014 Draft.

The preseason was anything but nice to the big-bodied Hoosier, who finished as his school’s all-time leader in catches, yards, and touchdowns by a tight end, but he was signed to the practice squad.

With Reed deserving of being mentioned as among the league’s top-five tight ends, it goes without saying that the Skins will have to deal with a dramatic drop off in talent if he were to go down with injury in 2014.


Joe Mercer is a Contributor to District Sports Page. A communications specialist with a municipal government north of the border, Joe is an aspiring author with close to 20 years experience in the newspaper business, including covering the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts for a small daily newspaper in Barrie, Ontario. A Redskins fanatic since the early 80s, Joe has often made the 12-hour journey from his hometown north of Toronto to Washington for both training camp and regular season games. You can follow Joe on Twitter @stylesmcfresh.

About Joe Mercer

Joe Mercer is a Contributor to District Sports Page. Joe is an aspiring author with close to 20 years experience in the newspaper business, starting as a sports reporter covering the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts for a small daily newspaper in Barrie, Ontario. A Redskins fanatic since the early 80s, Joe has often made the 12-hour journey from his hometown 45 minutes north of Toronto to Washington for both training camp and regular season games. You can follow Joe on Twitter @stylesmcfresh.

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