Steelers Matt Spaeth is tough, that's why he has his job
By Neal Coolong on Jul 1 2013
The blue-collar Minnesota native feels his desire to "mix it up" in the trenches is the reason he's still employed in the NFL. He gives credit for his willingness to do that from his father, the owner of a construction company.
Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth hated working for his dad growing up.
The owner of a Masonry company in St. Michael, Minn., a smallish town northwest of Minneapolis, Ken Spaeth played football at Nebraska and with the Buffalo Bills for a short period. He would drag his sons with him to work whenever they weren't in school or practicing, Matt told Mike Max of CBS Minnesota.
"That's why I have a job, to be honest with you. I like that and I enjoy that, and the physical nature, and getting in and mixing it up and the grimey stuff - that's what I like. And I think that's why I've been able to last as long as I've had in the league. I'm willing and capable of doing it," he said.
The Spaeth family can be seen from time-to-time at the Steeler Fans of Minnesota viewing parties at McGovern's in St. Paul. Matt, at 6-foot-7, may be smaller than his father. He's very hard to miss.
By all accounts, they grew up Vikings fans, which isn't odd. They cheered for their son in his first stint with Pittsburgh, and judging by Spaeth's interview with CBS Minnesota, he's happy to be back.
"I love the city of Pittsburgh and playing for the Steelers. It's an incredible organization with a great fan base. And you know, I just like to tell people that I'm gonna go out, and no matter what I'm gonna give it all I got every time, and I'm gonna play hard and do the little things that hopefully help us win," he said.
Spaeth will face his boyhood team, Minnesota, for the second time as a Steeler in Week 4 as the Steelers and Vikings travel to London as part of the league's international series. Playing the last two seasons with Chicago, he had the chance to play in front of his hometown once each year - a win in 2011 followed by a loss last season.
The Steelers beat the Vikings in Pittsburgh in 2009, one of the few losses the Vikings would take that season. In all that time, during a career that has already outweighed the length expectancy of any NFL player, Spaeth hasn't lost sight of the simple fact he didn't just make it in the NFL, he's still going.
"It's been a whirlwind to think this is year seven for me. I was just talking to somebody else, I don't want to say this, but I'm coming up on 30 and to think I'll be 30 playing in the NFL is just amazing. It's been a dream come true," Spaeth said.
Spaeth won't be an offensive juggernaut. But, he will come in get his 3-4 catches a game, block well, and hold down the fort until Heath is healthy.
Spaeth signing provided great value imo. He will be serviceable enough to solidify the TE position until Miller returns. I also think the Steelers are confident enough in his abilities at blocking that Spaeth could be viewed as the #4 LT on gamedays. I think the TE is stronger than last year with a healthy Miller.
I do think it needs to be addressed next draft though. It is looking like a pretty good draft early for TEs too which is good news for us. I'm an Austin Seferian-Jenkins fan. I think he is "next generation" Steelers type of TE. If he proves he learned from his mistake and has another good season he may climb out of reach without a trade up. I will wait to see how he does in 2013 and see where & how the Steelers finish before I say he is worth a 1st & 2nd. Maybe a kick back 4th in that scenario. On paper, if the OL becomes solid and the young guys are who they thought they would be...The roster may be set with starters & depth. Being that we gave up our 3rd and may be getting 3-4 comps back...This sounds like it could be a "target" draft & giving up some picks makes sense.
Steelers TE David Paulson still a work in progress
By Christopher Carter on Jul 30 2013
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.
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.