- The Washington Times - Monday, May 28, 2018

ASHBURN — Paul Richardson hasn’t been working with quarterback Alex Smith for very long, but the Redskins wide receiver is quickly learning Smith’s preferences and tendencies.

Both were acquired in the offseason, with Smith being traded from the Kansas City Chiefs and Richardson leaving the Seattle Seahawks to sign a five-year, $40 million deal.

“Alex, man, what stands out the most is he’s very decisive,” Richardson said last week at OTAs. “He’s not second-guessing himself, reading the coverage, man or zone. He’s trusting us to make it out of our break to meet the ball. He’s putting the ball in great spots with great timing.

“For it to be this early, we can only go up from here.”

The Redskins wanted Richardson for his speed, which was on display when he caught a 45-yard bomb from Smith last week. The 26-year-old receiver also showed impressive footwork to torch rookie cornerback Greg Stroman.

In Seattle, Richardson was primarily a deep threat. Quarterback Russell Wilson, according to NFL.com, had a 126.2 passer rating when targeting Richardson on passes that traveled 20-plus yards in the air.

Smith, meanwhile, was just as successful in Kansas City throwing down the field. He had a league-best 134.7 rating on deep throws — completing a league-high 54.2 percent of those passes.

Washington hasn’t had a reliable deep option since DeSean Jackson departed in free agency in 2017.

“it’s been really good,” Smith said of his early chemistry with his receivers. “We’ve had great work. … We got a lot in, Phase 1 and Phase 2, we got a lot of reps in, QBs and receivers working on timing, so I think we were ready to kind of introduce the defense, and this is the next step in our progression.”

Richardson and Smith are both coming off career seasons.

With the Chiefs, Smith threw for 4,027 yards and 26 touchdowns to just five interceptions. Richardson caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns.

OTAs aren’t necessarily indicative of a team’s future success, but the Redskins hope the Smith-Richardson combo will be an upgrade to a deep passing game that took a step back in 2017. 

Last season, Kirk Cousins has the ninth-best passer rating for passes of 20-plus yards, but was only 14th in completion percentage on those throws.  

When Cousins had Jackson and Pierre Garcon as targets, he finished in the top three among the league’s best deep passers.

The Redskins get back to work Tuesday for another three-day session of OTAs. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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