- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 9, 2019

ASHBURN — Paul Richardson tried to gut it out.

Last season, the Redskins wide receiver appeared in seven games while dealing with a shoulder injury. After he hurt it initially in OTAs, Richardson broke his clavicle in training camp when he laid out for a pass and landed awkwardly.

The 27-year-old tried to manage the pain throughout the season, but was eventually shut down in November.

“I don’t think anyone can question Paul Richardson’s toughness ever again in life,” wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard said. “He tried to give us all he had and he did. That alone speaks volume in what kind of dude he is.”

These days, Richardson says he feels “100%” after undergoing shoulder surgery, adding he’s ahead of his rehab. The Redskins have incorporated Richardson slowly back into the fold with the wideout participating in individual drills and in some team work.

In his first season with Washington, Richardson didn’t create the impact the Redskins had hoped for when he signed a five-year, $40 million deal in March 2018. Banged-up, Richardson managed just 20 catches for 262 yards and a touchdown.

But the Redskins aren’t giving up on Richardson. Far from it.

“Once training camp rolls around, and he’s fully healthy from his shoulder, I think we will be able to see what he can bring to this football team,” coach Jay Gruden said. “We had flashes last year with his speed, ability to take the top off [of a defense] and we expect that when he comes back fully healthy.”

“The expectation is still there,” Hilliard said.

Throughout last season, Richardson would often point out that players don’t ask to be hurt. That may seem obvious, but the six-year veteran knows how hostile fans can be when a player is injured. Richardson, after all, has been tagged as “injury prone” — a label players often loathe.

Richardson has only appeared in all 16 games once in his career. In 2015, he missed all but one game, first recovering from an ACL tear and later suffering a hamstring strain in his return. Richardson also tore his ACL in college.

“We’ve gotta play the cards we’re dealt,” Richardson said in October.

Asked recently about playing hurt in 2018, Richardson said he didn’t push through because he was worried about being labeled as injury prone.

More so, Richardson said he understood what he had “in the tank,” knowing what he could still give to the Redskins, even on a limited basis. Richardson would sit out practices, so he could be available on gamedays.

Richardson also noted he had already secured a long-term contract, which mattered.

“I wasn’t in the last year or approaching, so I had no reason to not give the team all that I had,” Richardson said. “I didn’t have anything to save in the tank. I wanted to play as long as I could help.”

Last year, the Redskins lacked explosiveness. They ranked dead-last in offensive plays that resulted in 25 yards or more — finishing the season with only 20 of them, 16 of which were passes. By comparison, the Kansas City Chiefs led the league with 62 — 52 of which were in the air.

Richardson, who accounted for three of those 25-plus yard plays, can help in that regard. But first, he needs to stay healthy.

“I’m out here having fun,” Richardson said. “It feels good to be back.”


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

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