Vikings DT Sheldon Richardson ready to show new, and old, tricks
EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is eager to show off some new techniques in the Saturday, Aug. 11, preseason opener at Denver.
Then again, you could say they’re old techniques.
During Richardson’s first two seasons with the New York Jets, in 2013 and 2014, Karl Dunbar was his defensive line coach. Dunbar, Minnesota’s defensive line coach from 2006-11 and now with Pittsburgh, taught Richardson plenty. He had eight sacks in 2014 and was named to the Pro Bowl.
Dunbar left the Jets after Rex Ryan was fired as head coach, and Richardson said he got away from some techniques that the line coach had taught him. With the Jets from 2015-16 and Seattle in 2017, Richardson sack total slipped to 7½ sacks for the three seasons combined.
Richardson signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Vikings in March. Now, he said defensive line coach Andre Patterson is working to get him back to his previous form as a pass rusher.
“He’s redefining my hands, mainly, things of that nature. Just small things,” Richardson said. “He said I have natural gifts for rushing the passer. He just said I need to tweak a few things.
“I heard it a few times (from Dunbar) when I was a rookie and in my second year in the league, and not since — and I needed to hear that. Just little things (Patterson is) on me about, and you’d be surprised how often guys slip on stuff like that.”
Richardson said “the little things” weren’t emphasized to him the past three seasons. Part of the reason, he said, was moving from three-technique defensive tackle to outside linebacker with the Jets in 2015-16. He also said he regards Dunbar and Patterson as the two best line coaches he’s had.
Richardson returned to three-technique with the Seahawks before the Vikings signed him to play that spot this season. Head coach Mike Zimmer said “there’s a lot of things new” that Richardson is doing but he declined to offer specifics.
Richardson is eager to make his Minnesota debut in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Broncos in Denver. It will be his first real chance to show what has been drilled into him since spring drills began in April.
“I’m excited to get out there,” he said. “Looking to stay healthy, working technique, making sure I’m doing everything right as far as the coaches’ standpoint and my standpoint.”