Logan Paulsen has spent most of the last two Redskins training camps battling for the third tight end position on the Redskins roster.
On Sunday against the Patriots, he'll be the team's top tight end, following season-ending knee and hand injuries to Chris Cooley and a season-ending suspension for Fred Davis.
Asked if he could have imagined this scenario playing out three months ago, he admitted that it seemed far-fetched.
"I'd be lying if I said that was something that I thought about," he said. "But that's why I'm on the team, to contribute in these types of situations. I'm just excited for the opportunity."
Paulsen has earned his opportunities in the NFL, appearing in 23 games after going undrafted out of UCLA in 2010. Sunday is expected to be his fourth career start, but his coaches don't expect him to be overmatched.
"As Logan is getting some playing time, I think he is feeling more comfortable in our system," said head coach Mike Shanahan. "I think he is enjoying playing, more so now than he ever has, because he is getting to play in game situations."
Paulsen is known for his blocking prowess, but he also has seven receptions for 95 yards this season. He showed his ability to stretch the field in Week 7 vs. Carolina, with two 24-yard receptions.
"Logan is a solid football player, he works hard, he gets everything," said offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. "You don't see him right away as a pass threat, but we've come to believe in him over the two years with him. He gets the job done. He's got solid hands and he gets up the field."
Kyle Shanahan also cautioned against viewing Paulsen as a replacement for Davis, who was among the league's top tight ends. He noted that the offense will need to cater to Paulsen's strengths.
"These are two totally different players," he said. "Fred's a pretty special player in the passing game, and not everyone can do what Fred can do. You've got to take that into account and figure out the things that [Paulsen] does best, and put him in the best situation to be successful."
Paulsen said that his time working with Davis has served him well. He cited confidence as his biggest improvement this season.
"I think in every area of my game, I've improved, and it definitely makes me feel a lot better about playing in this situation," Paulsen said. "Having the experience in these last couple games is going to be huge now that I'm going to be playing more."