Seahawks’ Paul Richardson trying to be the ‘speed guy’
With Percy Harvin traded away, Paul Richardson has had to step up at wide receiver and his speed could help open up the Seahawks’ offense.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Oakland Raiders @ Seahawks, 1:25 p.m., Ch. 7
RENTON — The matter of Paul Richardson’s size is not lost on him, largely because he is always reminded of it.
Richardson is 6 feet tall but at 183 pounds he is slender, and the questions about his size have always followed him. In fact, it was the sixth question coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were asked after drafting Richardson in the second round this year.
The gist of Carroll and Schneider’s collective response? Forget about size, Richardson is flat-out fast.
“He’s got quickness kind of like Doug Baldwin, he’s got speed kind of like Percy Harvin and he has that catching range kind of like Jermaine Kearse,” Carroll said at the time.
Fast-forward a few months to the middle of Richardson’s rookie season. Richardson acknowledged that NFL defenders are bigger and more physical than those he faced in college, but his antidote hasn’t changed.
“I am still a fast guy, and that’s nothing I can hide,” Richardson said. “I have to use my speed and quickness to my advantage to compensate for my size. I think I’ve been able to adjust to the physicality because the only way you can see or feel how physical another guy is if they’re able to get their hands on you. If you can keep their hands off you, you’ll never get exposed.”
That will be even more important as he assumes a larger role. After the Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets two weeks ago, the coaching staff informed Richardson at the team hotel in St. Louis that it was his time to step up.
He had hardly been a factor until that point. He caught just one pass for 7 yards in his first four games, and he was inactive for one game. But Richardson has become an increasingly bigger part of the Seahawks’ plans post-Harvin, and the weapon he possesses — his speed — could help open up Seattle’s offense.
The Seahawks haven’t attempted as many deep passes this season as they did a year ago, and Richardson’s speed is a natural tool for the Seahawks to use downfield.
The Seahawks took one such chance against the Panthers last week, when quarterback Russell Wilson lofted a deep pass to Richardson down the middle of the field. Surrounded by two defensive backs, Richardson had a chance to make the play but couldn’t secure the ball in traffic.
“He put it out there, and I could have made a better play on the ball,” Richardson said after the game. “We’re going to come back to plays like that. We’ve got to try plays downfield.”
Richardson is small, but the Seahawks point to a couple of factors when explaining how he overcomes that. First, Richardson is so good at getting releases at the line of scrimmage that he makes it hard for defenders to get their hands on him.
He’s able to manipulate his body to shrink the contact area for defenders, and his speed allows him to create separation if a defender doesn’t jam him at the line.
The Seahawks liked Richardson’s hands and thought he played bigger than his measurements. They made comparisons to similarly sized receivers in the league like Marvin Harrison and Donald Driver.
“If it’s going to be a leaner guy like this it has to be a guy that attacks the ball and plays in competitive tight spots, and this guy does that,” Schneider said at the draft. “He has broad shoulders, he’s a lean guy, but his length is really nice. With that basketball conversion he ends up being a 6-foot-4 catching-radius guy.”
In the two games since the Harvin trade, Richardson has six catches for 53 yards, including one catch on Seattle’s game-winning drive last week. He still hasn’t caught a pass longer than 11 yards, and he is searching for the home-run throws behind defenses.
“My role right now is I’m a speed guy,” Richardson said. “A lot of teams are playing off of me or when they do line up in front of me they’re bailing. And, I mean, I haven’t even gone over the top yet. I’m still a deep threat, but right now I’m just catching it and make first downs and letting them use me where they need me.”
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or email@example.com