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Rams’ Richardson Is Hungry and Ready to Run ..
By STL Staff on August 13th, 2013
Last spring, St. Louis Rams running back Daryl Richardson was one slot away from garnering Mr. Irrelevant status after being selected with the next-to-last pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.
By last fall – surprisingly to most – Richardson had ended up one spot away from an opposite parallel: one back removed from being the most relevant runner in all of St. Louis.
With the departure of franchise all-time rusher leader Steven Jackson, the path to the role of Mr. Relevant for the Rams’ running game has been fully cleared.
As Richardson expressed following a recent practice at Rams Park, he realizes that he is sitting – or better yet running – in a good location.
“Right now, I’m in a good position,” Richardson said. “I have a chance of having a bigger role on the team. I’m feeling good and trying to get better every day and compete.”
According to head coach Jeff Fisher, the bigger role that Richardson spoke of above will likely be the prime-time spot in the St. Louis backfield – the starting role left vacated by the exit of Jackson.
“I think Daryl comes back as our starter,” Fisher said. “He played significantly more last year than anybody.”
In last year’s action, Richardson impressed. Of the 43 backs with the league’s most rushes, Richardson finished ninth with a 4.8 yards-per-carry average. He wasn’t too shabby in the passing game, either, reeling in 24 receptions.
A season ago, the Rams often featured Richardson on runs of the exterior variety, namely on tosses and sweeps to the right and left. Richardson had several big gains on scampers of the aforementioned ilk. With that realized, it might be surprising to hear the second-year back express a preference for interior carries.
“I can run outside or inside,” Richardson said. “I mainly like to run inside right between the tackles. That’s where most of my big runs come from.”
Heading into the 2013 campaign, the second-year product from Division II Abilene Christian is feeling more comfortable than he was during his rookie year.
“I’m feeling real good and just more settled in during my second year than I was last year,” Richardson said. “I’m just more confident.”
Throughout camp, Richardson has exhibited a consistent burst to and through the holes that no other back in St. Louis has duplicated. Richardson rarely shows any hesitation when toting the football. The second-year runner – who has been clocked in the 40 as fast as the high 4.3s – gets to top speed quickly and can blow by defenders. As Rotoworld senior football editor Evan Silva put it in this recent report, Richardson possesses “an incredible amount of juice.”
In the exhibition opener at Cleveland, Richardson racked up 24 yards on just six carries and further entrenched his position as the Rams’ top back. He worked on his hands and pass blocking during the offseason, and both of those aspects of his repertoire look enhanced.
With a game that is continually growing more well-rounded, it is no wonder that Richardson feels confident in the entirety of his arsenal.
“I’m feeling pretty comfortable,” Richardson said. “I feel like I’m a good quality running back. I can run, catch and block … pick up the blitz and everything.
“I think I can bring a lot to the table. I’m hungry, I’m ready and I’m focused this year. I feel like this year is going to be a big year for me.”
St. Louis fans, the Rams’ front office and the team’s coaching staff, of course, are all hoping Richardson indeed has the big year of which he spoke.
The Rams’ organization – unlike most others – has rarely entered a season opener in the last 30 with as much uncertainly in the backfield as it will next month. Then again, what other franchises have employed what may end up being four Hall of Fame backs (Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk and Jackson) over the past three decades?
For the Rams, entering a year without a proven lead runner is strange and unfamiliar territory. It will certainly be different not seeing Jackson running through the smoke and fire of the Edward Jones Dome tunnel prior to the home opener this fall.
Thankfully, however, Richardson won’t be called upon to carry the entire load in his first season as featured back. Richardson should benefit from some solid assistance from the likes of rookie runner Zac Stacy, second-year counterpart Isaiah Pead and either first-year back Benny Cunningham or Year 2 ball carrier Terrance Ganaway.
“This is every one of our dreams (he and his teammates at running back),” Richardson said. “We are just out here battling and trying to compete and trying to get better every day … just really working at it.”
The humble and soft-spoken Richardson is keeping things in proper perspective, something that is perhaps aided in part by a fine football pedigree.
“It’s a blessing to be here,” Richardson said.
Bernard Scott – Richardson’s older brother and the player who most reminds him of himself – is entering his fifth campaign as a running back for the Cincinnati Bengals. Elder cousin Clyde Gates is embarking upon his second season with the New York Jets after a year the Miami Dolphins.
Will the runner who reminds me at least a little of another former Fisher protégé, Chris Johnson, become a great lead back, just as Johnson has? Let’s be honest – few runners will ever do what Johnson did in his best years with the Tennessee Titans, but with a passing game here that possesses much more potential than any that has been seen from that organization since it was still in Houston and being led by Warren Moon, Richardson shouldn’t have to.
Re: Rams’ Richardson Is Hungry and Ready to Run ..
Preseason game 1, on the TD drive showed this Richardson wanted the job, and for now is #1 in my books for the spot...I am really looking forward to seeing him game 2 and 3, but if he runs that that kind of determination as in game one, I bet he gets the job, a Mini-Sjax
Re: Rams’ Richardson Is Hungry and Ready to Run ..
D. Rich on the other hand, is more of a one cut and go, he is not a "dancer." Between D. Rich and Stacy, it should be interesting as the year goes along. I'd imagine Zac gets some touches as well once the season gets going.
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