In seven games played in 2013, Packers safety Sean Richardson recorded 15 tackles, offering Green Bay encouragement following a worrisome neck surgery that he had undergone early in the previous offseason.
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Sean Richardson, safety
Season stats: Seven games (174 snaps; 36.8 percent of snaps during games in which he was active), 15 tackles, one missed tackle, zero tackles for loss, zero sacks, zero interceptions, zero forced fumbles, zero passes defensed, four stops (solo tackles that resulted in offensive failure); targeted three times in coverage, allowing one reception for 11 yards, one touchdown
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: 0.5 (ranked No. 7 out of 26 Packers defensive players; ranked No. 1 among Packers safeties)
Best game: Week 16 loss vs. Pittsburgh (played 36 of 60 snaps; zero passes defensed, five tackles, zero missed tackles, two stops; 1.1 PFF rating)
Worst game: Week 17 win at Chicago (played 18 of 51 snaps; zero passes defensed, two tackles, one missed tackle, zero stops; minus-0.7 PFF rating)
Looking live: Sean Richardson’s 2013 offseason was a pivotal one in his career, albeit one that he had very little control over. He was recovering from neck fusion surgery that he had undergone in January, and all he could do was wait and hope that it was healing well enough to eventually gain medical clearance. In May 2013, while his teammates were going through organized team activities (OTAs), Richardson was unable to participate. "Rehab is going great," Richardson said at the time. "I’ll be back soon. I’m pretty close." However, two months later, Richardson was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list heading into training camp. "He’s going through some studies," coach Mike McCarthy said of Richardson on the first day of training camp. "There were some tests that needed to be done here in the last couple of days. We’re gathering information and hopefully we’re getting close to a decision with Sean." On Aug. 1, McCarthy said, "it’s a timely process and we’re in the middle of it." Richardson was sidelined for the entirety of training camp, and there was not much new information during that time to indicate that anything was going to change in his status for a while.
Upon further review: Richardson was medically cleared Oct. 24, 2013, 11 months after the injury occurred. "It wasn’t a celebration; it was a relief," Richardson said at the time. "It was a long journey. I made it." However, that didn’t guarantee that Richardson would actually play in a game during the 2013 season. But in Week 12 against Minnesota, one day shy of the one-year anniversary of his injury, Richardson stepped on the field and played 11 snaps. After the Packers released Jerron McMillian on Dec. 3, Richardson took one step up the depth chart, but he immediately followed that with another step up when defensive coordinator Dom Capers gave him more than snaps than M.D. Jennings. For three consecutive weeks, Richardson played more than Jennings, with Richardson on the field for as many as 65 percent of the snaps in one of those games. But with the season on the line in Chicago in Week 17, and again in the playoffs against San Francisco, Jennings played more than twice as many snaps as Richardson. Through his 174 total snaps in 2013, Richardson proved to be a good run defender near the line of scrimmage, using his big 6-foot-2, 216-pound frame to his advantage. Richardson was fine in coverage for the most part, but he wasn’t targeted enough to draw much of a conclusion from. He wasn’t the quickest to the ball, but his size makes a positive impact.
Overall 2013 grade: C-plus
Status for 2014: Ninety-nine percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster to begin the 2014 regular season. The next test for Richardson will be seeing how he plays when given a full offseason to train and not worry about rehab work. Jennings signed with the Chicago Bears this offseason, which, at the moment, leaves just Morgan Burnett, Chris Banjo and the soon-to-be multi-positioned Micah Hyde with Richardson at safety. That, of course, gives Richardson not only a great shot at making the active roster but to also earn himself an important role in the defense. Green Bay will all but certainly add another safety before training camp (likely through the draft), but Richardson should get a lot of opportunities to prove himself in 2014.