FOXBORO, Mass. — The nickname “Coach” might eventually follow Jordan Richards to the New England Patriots.
The rookie defensive back from Stanford already is impressing his new teammates, including fellow safety and captain Devin McCourty.
“I think the thing that sticks out the most about him is I think he’s a very smart guy,” McCourty said. “I think he’s a guy that’s hungry. He came in Day 1 knowing as much as possible for a rookie. The thing is, we stay on him to keep playing through mistakes. He’s so smart and understands so much that he hasn’t made very many mistakes. But he’s still a rookie, and we just tell him to keep playing. He’s doing great so far.”
Richards seems to have caught up quickly after missing the beginning of organized team activities while finishing his degree. The 2015 second-round draft pick is already standing out in training camp with an interception in Day 1 and an impressive pass breakup over 6-foot-7 tight end Scott Chandler on Saturday.
“Everything’s new to me,” Richards said. “These guys have played a lot of football. I’m entering camp No. 1. This is Day 3, so I’m just trying to get better every day. It’s not just about where I am in relation to everybody else. I’m just trying to play mistake-free football.”
Playing without mental errors seems to come easy for the 5-foot-11, 210-pounder.
“You almost gotta play the game before it happens,” Richards said. “You see a formation, you gotta know what happens if we get motion, if we see this, if we see that. You just gotta play it before it happens. That’s the thing I’m trying to work on right now.”
Head coach Bill Belichick, who was impressed with Richards’ ability to pick up the Patriots’ defense while being away from the team during the spring, continued heaping praise on the rookie Friday.
“Well, we didn’t see a whole lot of him in the spring,” Belichick said. “He didn’t come in until late, missed part of the OTAs finishing up school. But he’s a smart kid, picks things up quickly and he seems to be a pretty instinctive player. He has a good feel for the ball and awareness. He’s a good communicator back there. We’ll see how it goes.”
Learning the Patriots’ complex defense seems like it won’t be an issue for Richards, but he should have the advantage of easing into a role with the team. McCourty is expected to be the Patriots’ starting free safety, and Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon and Tavon Wilson, all of whom played considerable snaps as the team’s No. 2 safety, are back this season.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images