How Seahawks’ Paul Richardson is emerging down the stretch
Paul Richardson has statistically played his best in the last four games of the season, and he is looking more and more worthy of being a second-round pick in the 2014 draft for the Seahawks.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Paul Richardson by the numbers
5 Receptions for Richardson on Sunday.
60 Receiving yards for Richardson.
32 Yards on Richardson’s longest pass reception. It led to Seattle’s first score of the game.
The way teammates talk about rookie receiver Paul Richardson is telling.
Richardson has statistically played his best in the last four games of the season, and he is looking more and more worthy of being the second-round choice in the 2014 draft. But what teammates talk about most is not his development or how far he has come. What they talk about is opportunity.
“He’s not much different, to be honest with you,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “Physically, he’s the same cat. Mentally, he just realized what this offense was. … It can be frustrating at times not really understanding why you don’t have as many opportunities as you normally would get. He had to grow in that way and realize that this offense is what it is.
“But the mental toughness that he’s shown, I’m more proud about that than anything else because he makes the best of his opportunities.”
Richardson had his best game as a pro in Seattle’s season finale Sunday. He caught five passes for a season-high 60 yards and hauled in his longest catch of the season, a 32-yarder down the sideline.
And he did all that in the absence of Jermaine Kearse, one of Seattle’s best receivers, who missed the game Sunday with a hamstring injury but should return for the playoffs.
“Not that Paul wasn’t always good,” running back Robert Turbin said. “He wasn’t even getting as many chances as he is now. Kearse goes down, so who’s going to step up and make plays? He did.”
The spike in Richardson’s production late in the season is striking:
• Richardson in the first 12 games: 13 catches, 102 yards, no touchdowns
• Richardson in the past four games: 15 catches, 169 yards, one touchdown. That would average out to 60 catches and nearly 700 yards over the course of a season.
It’s even more striking when viewed in the context of before-and-after the Percy Harvin trade following Week 6:
• Richardson in the five games before Harvin’s trade: one catch for 7 yards. He was so buried on the depth chart, he didn’t suit up for one game.
• Richardson in the 11 games after Harvin’s trade: 14 catches for 162 yards and one touchdown.
Richardson is blazing fast, and although he is only 183 pounds, he is able to use his burst and shiftiness to avoid getting jammed by defensive backs.
“When John Schneider first started talking to me about this guy they were possibly going to draft, I kind of did my research,” quarterback Russell Wilson said of a predraft discussion with the Seahawks’ general manager. “I looked up some film on him and just kind of watched. One of the best things he did — and same thing with Kevin Norwood — they attack the football extremely well. That’s what you want.”
Richardson’s speed always has stirred images of a downfield threat capable of “stretching” defenses. But he rarely got free early in this rookie season.
He had a 22-yard catch last week in Arizona, and he followed it Sunday with an impressive 32-yard catch on a go route down the sideline in which he shook the defensive back at the line, blew past him and then went up over him to make the catch.
“It’s great to get him down the field,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We’ve been trying and looking for that chance.”
Said Richardson, “I’m over 180 pounds. How much bigger do they want me to get? I can run with my size, I can block for my size and I make plays. That’s all I rely on: playmaking ability and being smart and protecting myself.”
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org