When Matterral Richardson stepped in front of Jared Lorenzen’s pass in the waning moments of the Hall of Fame game, the entire town of Marlin, Texas, might have cheered his 38-yard dash to the end zone.
Richardson, an undrafted rookie free agent from Arkansas, got plenty of phone calls from residents of the small town about 30 miles southwest of Waco after his turn in the national television spotlight.
“A lot of, lot of people called me. It was crazy,” Richardson said. “[It] is only about 6,000 people. It was really big for them, and I’m just trying to make my hometown proud.”
A three-year starter for the Razorbacks, Richardson expected to be among the 252 players selected in April. But a poor performance at the NFL combine, which was in part because of a strained groin, played a big part in a team not selecting him.
Richardson said only the Redskins called him the day after the draft.
“I really wasn’t going to test [at the combine], but I felt like, ‘Well, I came, so I should try to perform,’” Richardson said. “I felt like I showed I could play and I could cover in the SEC. I was a nice-sized cornerback, and I thought I had all the attributes, but not a lot of people knew I was hurt at the combine.”
Now with cutdown day less than two weeks away, Richardson is running out of days to prove he belongs on this team. Still, he has made a positive impression and is vying to be the feel-good, long-shot story of camp.
“Most young kids in that situation will be backing up not to get back deep,” defensive coordinator Greg Blache said of the interception. “He challenged the receiver. That earned my respect. I saw this kid’s got courage. He’s not afraid to play the game. He got my attention.
“He’s come a long, long way. If he continues to progress that fast, he can be a real fine corner in the league someday. He’s caught the pack. He’s in the mix. Anything can happen at that spot the next two weeks.”
Defensive lineman Ryan Boschetti starred for the Redskins in their 13-10 win Saturday at the New York Jets. The fifth-year tackle had three tackles, including a rushing attempt that he blew up for a 4-yard loss on third-and-1.
He also batted down a pair of pass attempts.
“He goes one speed - 100 miles an hour,” Blache said. “And if you’re around him and you’re not going 100 miles an hour, he’s going to run over you, offense, defense, it doesn’t matter. From a coach’s standpoint, you’ve got to love that. He’s on the bubble again. Fourteen years from now, he might still be on the bubble. [Boschetti’s] one of those guys that you find yourself pulling for because of the way he approaches the game.”
In his four years with the Redskins, Boschetti has appeared in 19 games and recorded 17 tackles. Regardless of which young players the team has brought in at the position, Boschetti has found a way to make the team.
“As long as I’ve been here, he’s been on the bubble every year and he’s survived,” Blache said. “We joke about it amongst ourselves. We call him a cockroach. He survives everything. He’s got phenomenal intensity. … He’s a coach’s dream. He’s not the most athletic guy. If he had as much athleticism as he had heart and want-to, this guy would be a Hall of Famer. I love all my guys, but I LOVE him.”