NEW YORK (AP) Family comes first for Sheldon Richardson – especially over voluntary football practices.
The New York Jets defensive lineman was irritated by fans critical of him skipping organized team activities earlier this week, telling them they need to relax and focus on themselves instead.
”I have a life outside of football n I chose to enjoy my family a little longer,” Richardson wrote on Twitter on Friday. ”So to u fans that know everything please worry bout yourself.”
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Richardson, who played in his first Pro Bowl last season, is entering his third year in the NFL and is among the Jets’ key players. He was selected as the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year after the 2013 season.
The Jets began their first series of OTAs, as they’re commonly called, this week, and Richardson did not participate in the first two. Several fans criticized him on social media, wondering where he was and questioning his dedication to the game.
OTAs are not mandatory and neither are offseason workouts, as stated by the league’s collective bargaining agreement. However, many players use the time to bond with teammates, and in the Jets’ case, a new coaching staff.
Coach Todd Bowles said Wednesday that Richardson has been ”in and out, as have a lot of guys,” during the offseason. But he added that he hadn’t heard from Richardson and didn’t know when or if he would attend any OTAs.
”I have no idea,” Bowles said. ”I mean, it is voluntary, so there’s not much you can do.”
Richardson indicated that he practiced Thursday, the third and final OTA session this week. There are 10 total OTAs, and the next mandatory practices are minicamp in early June.
”All I’m hearing from ppl is get to OTA’s etc. like I jus wasn’t at practice yesterday putting in wrk tho,” Richardson wrote.
Bowles said he ideally would like every player to show up for all of the team’s offseason sessions, but is mindful of their responsibilities off the field – particularly when attendance at practice isn’t mandatory.
”Guys have things they do in the offseason that they probably have schedules for that they can’t afford to miss,” he said, ”so I understand that part as well.”
Meanwhile, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson continues to stay away from all voluntary practice sessions this offseason, looking to get a new, long-term deal. Wilkerson, entering the final year of his rookie deal, is expected to attend minicamp.
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