LATROBE (AP) — David Paulson stood on practice field No. 1 on Sunday afternoon, the second-year Pittsburgh Steelers tight end standing next to All-Pro teammate Heath Miller while the two watched one of Miller's children do their own imitation of a 40-yard dash.
Slouched over a bit, flushed cheeks making the 24-year-old Paulson look a decade younger, Paulson looked a bit like Miller's little brother. And in a way, perhaps he is.
While Miller remains on the physically unable to perform list as he continues to recover from a gruesome left knee injury last season, the timeline on Paulson's apprenticeship is speeding up.
In the span of a year, the soft-spoken kid taken as a seventh-round flier in the 2012 draft is possibly the team's best pass catching option until Miller returns.
Not that Paulson wants to talk about it.
Even after catching a handful of passes from Ben Roethlisberger — including a diving grab in front of LaMarr Woodley — during a seven-on-seven drill on the second day of training camp, Paulson shrugs his shoulders and looks at the ground when asked to discuss his rise up the depth chart in 12 short months.
"I'm a little more comfortable and I know what to expect out of training camp," said Paulson, who caught seven passes in limited playing time in 2012. "I know the offense. I'm more comfortable with the people here."
Certainly looks like it.
Then again, Paulson's always been able to get his hands on the football. He caught 67 passes for 1,041 and 10 touchdowns in his final two years at Oregon.
Lining up in the slot, Paulson used his 6-foot-4 body to create matchup problems with opposing linebackers and safeties in the Ducks' up-tempo attack.