Since the moment the announcement was made that Steven Jackson would be taking his talents to Atlanta, the proverbial torch was passed to Daryl Richardson. The Rams’ running back position, especially in recent memory, is one looked upon with the highest prestige, marked by NFL greats, like recent Hall-of-Fame inductee, Marshall Faulk, and a potential Hall-of-Famer in Steven Jackson. Even with 2012 second-rounder, Isaiah Pead, on the roster, there was never any doubt the Richardson, a late seventh-round selection, would be the next in line.
However, merely earning the spot does not necessarily earn you respect in the NFL. In modern football, the “necessity” of a dominant running back is arguable, with teams like the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers rarely starting a recognizable players in their backfield, but still regularly ending the season with a Top 5 offense.
Daryl Richardson was a tease for Rams Nation last season, being inserted into the starting lineup at the start of the season in relief of Steven Jackson, who tweaked his groin in Week 2 against the Washington Redskins. As the “next man up,” Richardson took 15 attempts against the ‘Skins, posting 83 rushing yards, as well as 19 receiving yards. In a mid-season stretch, Richardson averaged 8.3 carries and 57 yards per game, while posting a 20+ yard run in three out of four games. However, after the bye, Richardson faded from the spotlight, with Jackson returning to “full health” and, consequently, retaking a bulk of the rushing attempts in the offense.
With Jeff Fisher continually reinforcing the notion that Daryl Richardson will be the starter in St. Louis this season, the rest of the NFL appears to be focusing their attention on the young stud out of Abilene Christian University. Against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, Richardson took 4 carries for 24 yards, an average of 6.0 yards per attempt, on top of pulling in 2 catches for 20 yards; and it only took his 10 offensive snaps to do it! If that is any indication of the his usage in the regular season, the sky is the limit.
However, it isn’t just Rams Nation that is beginning to take notice. Richardson made Bleacher Report’s list of players ready to make a “huge second year leap,” noting that the Rams’ sophomore seems “primed to at least double his production” from last season. Others are starting to change their narrative in regards to the Rams’ running back battle, slowly transiting away from having “question marks” to having confidence in Daryl Richardson as “the man” to fill the void left by Jackson. Even Fantasy Football sites are starting to push for taking Richardson higher on the board, and nothing screams “you’ve made it” more than seeing the “100% drafted” designation next to your name on fantasy boards.
Those who follow the St. Louis Rams knew we had found a diamond in the rough last season when Richardson was terrorizing opposing defenses on the ground. Now, it appears, the rest of the NFL is finally jumping onto the Daryl Richardson-bandwagon.