Florham Park, NJ – Sheldon Richardson slept like a baby last night. After devouring a victory meal consisting of a sixteen-ounce steak, mac and cheese, green beans, and a baked potato, Richardson passed out, undefeated to start his NFL career.
“I felt pretty good. I was flying around, making some plays here and there,” said Richardson.
He was a big part of a defense that bottled up Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin, and kept the Bucs to 17 points on the day. Richardson finished with seven tackles, half a sack, and a quarterback hit.
The rookie was possibly a bit too excited. In minicamps his biggest problem was overrunning plays. On game day, it was rushing onto the field even when the defense wasn’t out there.
“I was just into the game,” said Richardson. “Offense was on the field making big plays, you’ve got to celebrate a little bit. They need a little enthusiasm from the sideline.”
It would make sense that Richardson would ooze enthusiasm. He pretty much lives for sports and competition. Try to find his interests off the gridiron, and he’ll immediately bring up his love of basketball. Dig a little deeper, and after much deliberation he’ll mention his passion for video games. His favorite? The NBA 2k series. The only answer more obvious would’ve been Madden.
He is a fan of the “My Player” mode and models his players off his favorite NBA stars. That includes Allen Iverson at point guard, Dwyane Wade at shooting guard, and, not too surprising, Lebron James at small forward. The rookie admits James is probably his favorite player right now. And if the Finals MVP ever made it on to his favorite team, the Bulls, he’d have to go out and buy season tickets.
But on Sunday he wasn’t the spectator. No, over 80,000 people came to watch him play, and it was a special moment for the former Tiger.
“Faurot [Missouri’s stadium] is a little crazy too, but it got louder here. I will say that it got louder here,” said Richardson.
Richardson joked that the noise helped the defense out, making it hard for Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman to make calls at the line. That wasn’t as big of an issue for a defense that was well prepared going into the game.
“[Defensive Line coach Karl] Dunbar makes it critical that we know our assignment, because he says sometimes you won’t hear the linebackers making the calls,” explained Richardson. “And you just have know the formations in front of you, and you just have to know what you’re doing.”
For a guy pegged as a mismatch in Rex’s 3-4 defense, he is certainly proving prognosticators wrong. He’ll get his first taste of Tom Brady and the New England offense Thursday night. Something tells me he’ll be pretty excited for that game as well.
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