Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Season, New Attitude for Jets' Richardson

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Season, New Attitude for Jets' Richardson

Article excerpt

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. * Sheldon Richardson is a different guy from the one the New York Jets had in camp last summer.

Wiser. Smarter. Happier. More mature.

The defensive lineman from Gateway STEM and the University of Missouri had a rough year off the field and he knew things needed to change. So, Richardson did just that and he's leaning more under defensive line coach Pepper Johnson than he had before.

"I got my head right," he declared after practice Monday.

When asked to what he attributed that, Richardson offered a simple yet complicated response.

"Life," he said.

He was then asked if he feels happier now.

"Yeah," Richardson said with a big grin. "Except when I'm talking to y'all."

Richardson will serve a one-game suspension this season, the result of an arrest after driving his car at high speeds in Missouri last summer. He was thankful it wasn't more because he has been there before.

The 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year sat out the first four games last season because of marijuana usage, a violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. While addressing that last July, Richardson pledged to not be a distraction to his team. A few hours later, the news of the Missouri incident broke.

He was embarrassed, and so were the Jets.

But Richardson sought help at the urging of the team, talking through his issues and surrounding himself with a support group. Despite his colorful personality, he's a mostly private person who doesn't trust easily. And, a year ago, he had to earn back the trust of his teammates and the organization.

Richardson finished with five sacks and two forced fumbles last season in 11 games. He acknowledged, though, that he needed to adjust to Johnson after having so much success his first two years with Karl Dunbar as his position coach.

"Last year, I was a little more hardheaded," Richardson said. "I felt my way worked. I felt like I knew the system. We were trying new stuff, so I just was being hardheaded. That's all."

He said he has been more "compliant" this offseason, getting to know how Johnson likes things and believing more in his system.

"What I appreciate from him is that he's getting more confidence in me," Johnson said. …

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