From River Falls, Wisconsin
The track for Barry Richardson is all clear.
There’s nothing but green lights and go signals between him and the job as the Chiefs starting right tackle. All he has to do is move his now much lighter caboose down the track with as few problems as possible.
That begins Friday night at the Metrodome when the Chiefs have pre-season game No. 2 against the Minnesota Vikings (7 p.m. kickoff.)
On the purple side of the game the attention falls on 34-year old quarterback who is out to push his career to 19 years. Brett Favre reportedly will start for the Vikings. How long he plays is unknown, but he’s not expected to be out there very long.
On the red side of the field are dozens of stories like that of Barry Richardson – guys just trying to make a place for themselves in the NFL. In his rookie season last year, Richardson got just special teams duty in six games. He did not play a down on offense.
Todd Haley wasn’t naming any starters on Thursday as the Chiefs started packing before breaking camp. But this week, Richardson was moved into the starting lineup at right tackle ahead of Damion McIntosh and Herb Taylor. To stay there, he must make tonight’s performance a good one.
“I try to get a little bit better every day,” Richardson said. “That’s what I want to do Friday night, just get better.”
Richardson’s opportunity is a bit of a surprise, but it comes due to his willingness to dive in head first to Haley’s off-season program.
“(I) think Barry has a chance, said Haley. “He’s a guy who used the off-season program to his benefit. Lost more weight than anybody else in the entire off-season program, got himself in condition, and got himself much stronger which he is continuing to work on. He should continue to get stronger as we go forward. He’s made progress daily, not without some ups and downs. It’s not picture perfect, by any means – a work in progress – but I think he’s created some competition at the right tackle position.”
When Richardson left Kansas City after the final game of the ‘08 season, he weighed 330 pounds.
He spent two months at home in South Carolina eating Mom’s cooking and when he showed up for the off-season program, he weighed 350 pounds.
Richardson will play at 318 pounds against the Vikings and says he will likely be down to 315 pounds in the next week as the Chiefs continue their training camp in the hotter temperatures of Kansas City.
How did he lose the weight?
“One less bite,” the soft-spoken Richardson said with a smile. “I ate a lot of salads, and cut back on the fried foods. In the South, we like fried foods.
“I just took it as a challenge when he told me he wanted me to play at 320 pounds. I just worked every day (in the off-season program) to get better. I feel lighter, I feel better. I haven’t lost any strength in losing the weight. I’m quicker now too.
“It’s helped me get better.”
Richardson lost the weight in his middle, but he laughs and says “no” when asked if he has a six-pack of abdominal muscles now. “I’d need to lose another 20 pounds to have those,” he said.
The fact the team finished 2-14 and Richardson barely got any playing time did not make the ‘08 season a complete waste for him. “I learned a lot of things,” he said. “I was able to fine tune my pass protection, which I wasn’t that great at. Practicing every day against Tamba Hali and those guys, I used that to m y advantage to work on my skills.”
Getting better bit by bit, day by day; that approach is something that has served Richardson well.
“My Mom told me once that Rome was built in a day and that it’s better to just go out every day and improve,” Richardson said. “She was always telling me to slow down, not get in a hurry, and realize that it will come if you keep working. You start stringing together those types of days and you can get something done.”
The right tackle spot has been in flux since the first days of camp, when McIntosh could not pass his conditioning test and Taylor worked with the first team. Once he was on the active roster, McIntosh took most of the snaps with the first team until this week. When the Chiefs returned from Kansas City after pre-season game No. 1 against Houston, Richardson was the starter at right tackle and there he stayed all week. McIntosh worked with the second team at right tackle, while Taylor was working as the backup left tackle.
“I think this is just trying to find the best players or the best fit for us … the guys who give us the best chance to win,” said Haley. “This is an opportunity for a young guy to have a legitimate chance.”
What awaits Richardson in this game against the Vikings is another chance for him to increase the pile of chips in front of him. It’s doubtful a starter at RT will be determined in this game, but he could certainly play his way out of contention with a poor performance.
Right now, he’s with the first team and it’s up to him to stay there.
“I hope we can put some points on the board before we get out of the game,” said Richardson. “I want to not give up any sacks and open some holes for the running game.”
SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE
- BROWNS – signed C-G Pat Murray (Broncos) and LB Robert McCune; released WR Edwards Williams.
- BUCCANEERS – released WR Joel Filani, DB Michael Hawkins and DT Greg Peterson.
- COLTS – re-signed C Tom Pestock.
- 49ERS – released RB Zak Keasey.
- PACKERS – released TE Tory Humphrey and WR Patrick Williams.
- SAINTS – OT Jamaal Brown is sidelined with a groin injury.
- STEELERS – QB Ben Roethlisberger left practice on Thursday with has been reported as an Achilles’ tendon injury. No word on his immediate ability to practice or play.
FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY
On August 21, 1971, the Chiefs beat the New Orleans Saints 27-7 in a return to Tulane Stadium where they won Super Bowl IV. The Chiefs had touchdown runs by RB Ed Podolak (1-yard), RB Warren McVea (6 yards) and QB Mike Livingston (78 yards.) Livingston score came after handoff to RB Robert Holmes who gained 2 yards and fumbled. Livingston picked up fumble and ran 78 yards for the score. There were 70,459 at Tulane Stadium.
On August 21, 1976, the Chiefs beat the Washington Redskins 23-20 in a pre-season game at Arrowhead Stadium. QB Tony Adams threw two TD passes, an18-yard to WR Larry Brunson and 14 yards to WR Lawrence Williams. K Jan Stenerud had field goals of 28, 36 and 41 yards. RB John Riggins had two TD runs for Washington and 67 yards on 11 carries. QB Billy Kilmer was six of 11 for 78 yards.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on August 21, 1945 in Clover, Virginia was Hall of Fame MLB Willie Edward Lanier. He was selected in the second round of the 1967 NFL-AFL Draft out of Morgan State. Lanier played 11 seasons with the Chiefs (1967-77), appearing in 154 regular and post-season games, with 29 interceptions, 18 recovered fumbles and two returns for TDs. He went to eight all-star games or Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team in 1994. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. Lanier is also a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football H all of Fame.
Born on August 21, 1981 in Charlottesville, Virginia was K Nick Novak. He joined the Chiefs for the start of the 2008 season and kicked in six games, hitting six of 10 FG attempts before he was released. Novak also kicked for the Cardinals and Redskins.
Born on August 21, 1985 in Dublin, Georgia was LB Erik Walden. He was claimed on waivers by the Chiefs before the start of the 2008 season, after he was released by Dallas. Walden played nine games with the Chiefs last season, contributing 10 tackles on special teams.