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Jets’ Sheldon Richardson on Rookie Wall: “Something I Never Hit”

  • Dave Ragazzo


Last season, Jets rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was as close to perfect as you could get.  He seemed to pick up the Jets defense easily and instantly made an impact for the defensive line, which is now the strongest part of their defense.  For his impressive work, Richardson was named Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

There is no doubt that Richardson impressed defensive guru Rex Ryan with his playing ability.  As if his playing ability wasn’t enough, we now may have some insight to what else the outspoken Ryan may have liked about Richardson.

In an interview with The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, Richardson commented on the challenges a player normally sees in their second season.  Players who have a great deal of success in their first season often come back to earth in year two which is referred to as a “sophomore slump.”  Richardson has no intentions of experiencing this dip in play.

Here is more according to Daryl Slater, who covers the Jets for the local paper:

One of the Jets’ most important players, second-year defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year), does not have any big plans for this coming month. He is going to stick around New Jersey for a couple weeks, and then head home to St. Louis to visit his family.

While not straying too far from his usual routine, Richardson is sure that one thing will not be on his mind – a sophomore slump.

“That sounds like a rookie wall, something I never hit,” he said. “It sounds a lot like it to me.”

Richardson knows himself well enough to understand that he needs to continue his physical conditioning and workout regimen during this next month.

“For me, I like to just stick with it, because when I stop, I’m kind of a guy who really shuts down everything, so I just keep going,” he said. “I’m going to get away from football, but as far as working out, nah, I’m going to stick with it.”

Last year, Richardson used this time of year to relax, because “my body was dead” from preparing for the NFL Combine, and following it with rookie minicamp and offseason workouts, as he tried to prove himself to his coaches and learn the playbook.

Last year, weary from all that physical and mental pressure, he mostly did cardio work during the month off before training camp. Now, he expects to lift more weights.

“It’s a time for you to make yourself better,” he said.

Though players cannot work with their coaches during this time, they can still study.

“The playbook, you don’t need the coaches, really,” Richardson said. “You can teach yourself, pick up little things you notice and probably something the coach might’ve overlooked. But knowing Dundee, he’s probably caught it all.”

(By the way, Dundee – as in the 1986 cinematic classic “Crocodile Dundee” – is a nickname for Jets defensive line coach Karl Dunbar.)

The Jets are used to cockiness from their team, but that has been mainly Ryan’s job since he took over as Jets head coach.  It should come to no surprise that Richardson feels this way and as long as he keeps working, Jets fans should be happy with his production with the team.  Richardson will once again be anchoring the Jets front-line along with Pro Bowler Mohammed Wilkerson.

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