Sheldon Richardson basking in breakout rookie season
In all likelihood, Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson will be a frontrunner for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, handed out in a couple weeks.
But asked about the other side of the ball, Richardson sees two favorites for the offensive rookie honors.
“Keenan Allen and Eddie Lacy,” Richardson tabbed as his favorites, naming the Chargers receiver and Packers running back. “They’ve been balling all year. They are impact players for sure. They aren’t playing like rookies; they are playing like grown men. Lots of respect to them both.”
Allen, Lacy, Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso, Bengals running back Giovani Bernard and Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson were nominated for the Pepsi Next NFL Rookie of the Year award. Inexplicably, Richardson was left off the list.
As far as ranking his favorites for the offensive award, Richardson does know a thing or two about offensive players. Not only does he make a habit of stopping them – Richardson had 77 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks this past season – but he also made a contribution on the offensive side of the ball.
The Jets implemented a package for Richardson out of the backfield during organized team activities (OTAs), and finally implemented it late in the season. He had four carries for four yards along with two touchdowns.
Richardson laughs when asked if he should get NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration, but he clearly loves the role.
“Offensively, I just want to contribute to wins,” Richardson said. “I want to help, of course, but offense, those guys have been balling. They work so hard, I give them a lot of respect. If they call my number, I’m ready. But Tommy Bohanon is fit for the position, he really is. But me, it is a 1-yard touchdown, that’s it. People ask me why I don’t celebrate. I just go on my knee and just thank Jesus for the touchdown. I ran one yard, that’s it. No reason to celebrate.”
When asked at the end of the season if he should be Defensive Rookie of the Year, he smiled.
“Of course you want it. It is out of my hands,” Richardson said. “I’m proud of the season I’ve had, with or without an award.”
As for carrying the ball, his eyes light up. He plans on doing it as long as the Jets will put him in the game plan.
“One-yard touchdowns, I can keep doing that all day,” Richardson said. “It’s a good feeling, if you haven’t done it before, it is probably a tremendous feeling.”
“And you don’t get winded for one yard. Man, I couldn’t do what Chris [Ivory] or Bilal [Powell] does, each and every week. Those long runs. One yard is good. You get the six points and head to the bench. I’m happy just to be that, just to be the finisher. Much more and you can get tired out there.”
Richardson smirked at that last line and has to laugh.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.