As Richardson, who has played just 17 of a possible 37 regular-season and playoff games, in his two-year NFL career, seeks to carve a role in the Seattle offense, he comes back to a receiving corps that could be the deepest of the Pete Carroll era.
RENTON — Receiver Paul Richardson might be the fastest player on the Seahawks’ roster.
But as he enters his third NFL season, the popular perception is that he’d better start hurrying up.
The Seahawks’ first pick in the 2014 draft, at No. 45 overall, Richardson has just 30 catches in two seasons, both of which ended because of injury. He has played just 17 of a possible 37 regular-season and playoff games.
And as Richardson seeks to again carve a role in the Seattle offense, he comes back to a receiving corps that could be the deepest of the Pete Carroll era, particularly if tight end Jimmy Graham returns to full health.
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Richardson, though, scoffs at the idea he’s under additional pressure to secure a roster spot.
“I’m from inner-city LA (Los Angeles), man,’’ he said. “There’s competition every day. This is just another step.’’
And as long as Richardson stays healthy, his speed and ability to stretch the field figure to land him a significant role in 2016.
“We all know he has elite speed, so he can be that big-play factor for us stretching the field,’’ teammate Doug Baldwin said of Richardson, whose 4.40-second time in the 40-yard dash at the 2014 NFL combine was tied for the third-fastest among receivers. “But he’s also got pretty good route-running skills as well. That’s a combination that suits receivers really well — having that top-end speed, being able to scare defensive backs out of their back pedal, but then also being able to break on a dime and come out of his cuts. He has been working really hard on that and staying healthy, and he’s another guy I’m excited about seeing what he can do for us.”
Baldwin’s not the only one.
Richardson is understandably eager to show he’s past the injuries of his first two seasons.
Richardson had begun to come on in the second half of the 2014 season, picking up some of the slack created by the trade of Percy Harvin, when he suffered another torn anterior-cruciate ligament in his left knee during the fourth quarter of a divisional playoff win over Carolina.
He had 13 catches in his final three games and 10 in the last two before the knee injury.
Richardson then missed the first eight games of 2015 before returning Nov. 15 against Arizona.
But in the second quarter, as he hauled in a 40-yard reception from Russell Wilson, Richardson felt a twinge in his hamstring. Expected initially to miss only a little time, he had a setback a few weeks later and the team decided to place him on season-ending injured reserve.
Richardson, who said the hamstring and knee injuries were not related, said he was recovered by the time the playoffs rolled around.
“That was frustrating, too,’’ he said. “I had finally healed up and was ready to play and had to wait until the following season.’’
Richardson, though, said he also takes some responsibility, adding that the injuries have taught him about listening to his body and taking better care of it.
“I’ve just got to be smarter,’’ he said. “Take care of my body and play within myself.”
The hamstring injury occurred on a wet, cold Sunday night, and he said in the future he will make sure his body is as prepared as possible for any conditions.
“I just think the timing of it, when I went in for that play, the climate mixed with me just coming off the sideline wasn’t good timing,” he said.
“I’ve just got to be smart. If I feel something, just don’t ignore it. Got to attack it when I feel it. Or before anything happens, just be on top of it. That’s more or less what I am doing now — more strength and more body and core conditioning and making sure my body is intact.’’
Richardson sat out the last two days of minicamp after what Carroll called some tightness.
But before that he had stood out in the eyes of Carroll, who said Richardson had had “a great start in camp. … He is strong and really fast. We clocked him as fast as he has ever been for us in the OTAs. He is ready to compete and really help us.”
And more than competing for playing time with Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett, Richardson said he envisions how they can all work together.
“I just think that I can come in and just with more speed, just stretch the field and the guys are going to be open underneath,’’ he said. “And then when they start paying attention to that we are going to be getting them downfield. So I just think I am going to add to what they are already doing.’’