Seriously, how much better does it get than being the 252nd overall pick in the NFL Draft a year ago and turning into the starting running back on the depth chart to replace a near-certain future Hall of Famer?
For Richardson, that is the case as the Rams released their projected depth chart in the media guide for training camp which listed him atop the running back hierarchy. And of course the actual carries figure to be pretty well divided up between the three backs on the depth chart in Richardson along with fellow second-year man Isaiah Pead and incoming rookie Zac Stacy, but starting out on top can’t hurt, right?
At 5-foot-10 196-pounds, Richardson doesn’t fit the old-school mold for ball carriers, but his style will be perfect in the new-look offense that the Rams figure to run in 2013. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will likely try to spread teams out more this season with Sam Bradford bringing in a gaggle of new weapons. That could easily free up some space for Richardson to find creases and make some big gains out of the backfield in the upcoming season.
Ball security will need to be a focus during training camp as any slip ups could result in a quick demotion on the depth chart. Richardson put it on the ground three times last season, losing two of those fumbles on 98 carries and 24 receptions. That’s roughly one fumble every 40 touches which just isn’t going to get it done when each possession is so precious.
Another potential drawback is that Richardson’s production did wane in the season’s closing five weeks. He had just 16 carries for 24 yards during that final stretch which shows that he hit the rookie wall big-time. Gaining some endurance and durability will be very important for him to prove during camp and the preseason.
The explosion that Richardson can offer will definitely warrant a heavy workload in the coming season. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry last season with a long run of 53 yards coming in Week 2 against the Washington Redskins. An improved offensive line figures to afford even more opportunities to break long gallops in the upcoming campaign.
It’s going to be awfully different for Rams fans not to see No. 39 Steven Jackson lining up seven yards deep behind Bradford this season, but Richardson may just offer more potential at this stage of their respective careers. Look for him to really impress during camp and emerge as the true top ball carrier in St. Louis by the time Week 1 of 2013 rolls around.