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Horace Richardson Brings Pressure From New Position

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings defense is full of ferocious pass rushers, whether it's defensive ends Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter and Brian Robison, linebacker Anthony Barr or safety Harrison Smith.

But there was an unlikely pressure source Thursday night in Minnesota's preseason opener as rookie cornerback Horace Richardson led all players with three quarterback hurries.

Richardson, who played 18 of Minnesota's 75 defensive snaps, brought the heat late in the game. He mainly blitzed on Buffalo's final offensive drive, but found himself in an unfamiliar role.

"I had a couple hurries in my younger days, but for the most part I was a cover guy," Richardson said. "I got here and I get to play inside more, so it's pretty fun."

Richardson nearly had a sack on his first blitz through the gap but Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman was able to get the throw off before his knee touched the ground.

Richardson, who signed with the Vikings as an undrafted rookie out of SMU, said there's a feeling off excitement as you take off and head for the quarterback.

"You want to get there," Richardson said. "When you have a chance to sack the quarterback, you want to get there.

"It's like an extra gear you get, it just brings it out of you," Richardson added. "You can fly in and don't really have to worry about too much."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings didn't draw up any exotic blitzes in the preseason opener as he wanted to give young guys a chance to focus on simple assignments.

"Right now is just the base stuff that we put in," Zimmer said. "In the preseason, some of things we're trying to work on, too, is pressuring against the run or something like that.

"Just making sure they understand what gaps to be in. It's hard to simulate in practice all the time," Zimmer added. "Part of that is in the running game when we are pressuring, and sometimes it's making sure everybody understands the calls and signals on the road as well."

Richardson was primarily an outside cornerback in college at SMU but has switched to the slot since arriving in Minnesota this spring.

The 23-year-old said the biggest difference has been covering more areas of the field in the slot. Outside corners, he noted, have help from the sidelines.

"I'm constantly growing and constantly learning," Richardson said. "The biggest difference is just inside, you have a two-way go at all times. Outside it's a two-way go but not really because they can only go so far outside.

"Inside you have more field space and have to talk more, but on the outside it's just you," Richardson added. "You have to talk to everyone on the inside."

A noticeably quiet person who described himself as "chill," Richardson said he's had help from teammates such as Mackensie Alexander, Trae Waynes and Marcus Sherels in learning the position and being more vocal. 

"It's been a fun learning experience with guys like Mackensie and Terence and Marcus. It's pretty good to learn from those guys," Richardson said. "I've leaned on (Newman) a lot. He's really helpful and makes sure I'm talking. They want me to be more vocal, so I have to break that shell and start yelling more."

And he's learning from Zimmer, who is known around the league as a guru of sorts with defensive backs.

Richardson said he's learned that Zimmer is always keeping an eye on his position, even if he's on the next field over.

"What you need to know about Coach Zim', especially with young DBs, is that he's always watching," Richardson said. "He tells us things that we should know and things that are going to help us be in the right position. Everything he tells you, he has a reason why.

"I love it because there are no questions … if he tells you do it like this, that's how you do it, but he's also going to explain why you do it," Richardson added. "But he's always watching."

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