Signed by the Washington Redskins on Thursday, tight end Matt Veldman brings versatility that he believes meshes well with head coach Jay Gruden's offensive scheme.
"I can move around in the backfield, I can block, I can catch," Veldman said after his first practice. "I think I'm an all-around player. I blocked a lot in college – we had two 1,000-yard rushers my senior year in college -- so that kind of tells you what my role was as a tight end."
Veldman played for North Dakota State from 2008-11, appearing in 42 games where he logged 49 receptions for 584 yards and seven touchdowns.
During the 2011 NCAA-FCS Playoffs, Veldman helped launch an impressive offensive performance by the Bison – who would claim their first National Championship – with 18.5 yards per reception.
Eventually going undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft, the 6-foot-7 tight end spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012 before stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on their practice squad and the Detroit Lions.
In Week 17 last season with the Lions, Veldman appeared in his first career NFL game.
While the experience was one Veldman will always cherish, he said that the game doesn't change his mentality moving forward with the Redskins.
"Getting bumped up was nice, but for me it's football," he explained. "It's fun, it's hard work and it's something I've been doing since I was a kid. Playing in the game helped, but it doesn't change anything for me.
"It doesn't change how I prepare, it doesn't change how I work. I just got bumped up for a game. That's my goal – to get on the active roster. Hopefully that's what happens this year too."
Admitting that it "stunk not having any OTA reps," Veldman didn't just sit at home between the time of his departure from the Lions to his signing with the Redskins.
"I was working out at Wellefast Elite Sports Training in the summer, and I was working out with (other NFL) players," Veldman said. "Whatever they would do, I would do – run routes, footwork, blocking some bags. It's not like we ran just conditioning, we were doing all sorts of things.
"Mentally, I knew that sooner or later a call was going to come, and when it would, I knew that I had controlled my conditioning. I feel like right now, I'm as good as I can be without practice."
Another way that he tried to keep his body in shape while not on a team was playing basketball.
"On defense, staying between your man and certain things like that help me here," he said when asked how basketball can boost certain techniques of his football game. "Whether it be trying to catch a pass and making sure the defender stays on my back and doesn't get around and get the ball. I think that helps me on the football field, and I'm definitely glad I didn't focus on just football."
On the field with his new teammates this morning, Veldman said he's going to be "taking baby steps" over the next few days.
"As far as what we did in individuals today, a lot of footwork, we did some combo blocks with the tackles, (and) so some basic stuff, but some things that I need to learn to do here before I can start thinking about taking reps."
In a corresponding move to make room for Veldman on Thursday, the team announced it had waived defensive end Doug Worthington.
Worthington (6-5, 318) originally joined the Redskins via waiver claim on Aug. 6, 2011.