If you didn’t know who Matthew Mulligan was before the St. Louis Rams and the Washington Redskins played on Sept. 16, you were probably like most Rams fans.
Mulligan, the fourth-year tight end that spent his first three seasons with the New York Jets, has yet to really make his mark in the NFL. Mulligan came to the Rams without much fanfare, having collected only six career catches for 60 yards and no touchdowns in his career before 2012. Mulligan even making the team out of training camp was a bit of a longshot.
But Mulligan has overcome long odds before. The Enfield, Maine native didn’t even play football in high school. He played one year at small Husson College, now Husson University, before transferring to the University of Maine. Mulligan caught 10 passes for 111 in 2006 and was an undrafted free agent coming out of college.
“You don’t want to look back and be like, ‘I wish I would have done this,’” Mulligan said. “So I tried out for the football team and it’s taken me this far.”
Mulligan may have made the Rams under a low profile, but week two served as a coming out party of sorts for the backup tight end. Mulligan blocked a Sav Rocca punt and later caught a one-yard touchdown in the Rams 31-28 win over the Redskins.
The blocked punt was an especially big play in the game. It was something that Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said Mulligan and special teams coordinator John Fassel worked on during the week. Mulligan saw his opening during the game and took it.
“It’s good you get an experienced player like that who can sense the protection issue and take advantage of it,” Fisher said. “Mully’s always going to put himself in the right place at the right time to make a play.”
Possibly more memorable for Mulligan was the touchdown catch later in the game, his first as a professional.
“What a blessing,” Mulligan said of the catch. “It’s a great thing. I’m obviously not the number one guy. Lance (Kendricks) is and he deserves it, he’s our best tight end, but if they throw it to me I have to try to catch it.”
Given his performance through three games, they may be throwing it to him more often. Along with setting a career-high in touchdown catches, Mulligan needs just 33 more yards in the next 13 games to set a career-high in receiving yards.
Not that it matters to Mulligan. Even if he’s gaining notoriety, Mulligan is happy to continue doing the dirty work in hopes of helping others make their names known instead.
“I just do whatever they ask me to do,” Mulligan said. “Whatever the coaches want me to do, whether it be blocking, whether it be special teams, regardless of what it is I’m just happy to help the team out in any way.”