EAGAN, Minn. — Sheldon Richardson is ready for his return to the East Coast.
The Vikings defensive tackle, who was the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Jets, will go up against the teams who he played for in four of his first five seasons in the league.
But the offseason free agent pickup said he isn’t putting any extra emotion into the Week 7 matchup as the 3-2-1 Vikings travel to play the 3-3 Jets.
“It’s another game,” Richardson said Wednesday. “I never put myself above the team. Whatever personal vendetta I have is between me.”
Richardson clarified that he doesn’t consider it a “personal vendetta.” The offseason signee has a sack and has helped teammates pressure QBs in 2018. He said he is having a good time with his preparation this week while studying Jets guards Brian Winters and James Carpenter, his former teammates with New York.
“Like I said, I’m preparing for this week like I do every week,” As far as seeing my guys, B-Winters, Carp … seeing those guys out there, game-planning them is actually fun.
“It will feel like training camp to me,” Richardson added.
Richardson was the 2013 Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year and followed up his first season with a Pro Bowl berth in 2014.
He spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Jets before New York traded him to Seattle shortly before the start of the 2017 season.
Richardson then joined the Vikings in mid-March as the biggest defensive addition in the offseason.
The 27-year-old said he has grown both on and off the field in recent years.
“Personally? Definitely. Football player? Yeah, that, too. When [former Jets head coach Rex Ryan] was there, I was doing pretty good for the most part and making a name for myself in the league,” Richardson said. “After that, it was self-inflicted wounds. Just me not overcoming my personal battles in life. They got me out of there and changed their thing around there.
“I’ve pretty much grown from everywhere. At every phase of my life, I’ve grown. In Seattle and my time spent there, I grew from there. Not knowing where I was going to be this offseason, just sitting down … you know for four years straight what you’re doing and then you don’t know,” Richardson added. “You don’t know where you’re at as far as your career. I’ve been battling through that and landed in a good team, a good situation, good family-oriented guys, good coaching staff. You can’t really beat it.”
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on Wednesday praised Richardson for his work ethic and attitude throughout the offseason and so far through the 2018 campaign.
“I’ve been really impressed with Sheldon. Not just his play, but the way he’s come in here and tried to learn the techniques we are trying to teach him,” Zimmer said. “His professionalism, how he handles himself in the meetings. He’s been really good with everything.
“There has been some plays that a lot of people don’t recognize that I see on tape that I’m like, ‘That is a heck of a play.’ Everyone sees the sacks and the hits on the quarterbacks,” Zimmer added. “But they don’t see sometimes when you split the double team and you make a tackle or you run 20 yards down the field to make a tackle. Those things are impressive to me.”
Richardson assessed his own performance six games into his Vikings tenure.
“Doing my job,” Richardson said. “Not really getting the 1-on-1’s I’m looking for … getting a lot of double blocks, a lot of max protect, so I just have to work through it.”
Keeping it simple
The day after Minnesota’s Week 4 loss to the Rams, Zimmer mentioned that he may have been “overcoaching” his defense that had struggled in recent games.
Since then, the Vikings seemed to have turned a corner on that side of the ball.
Minnesota’s defense stifled the Eagles for most of its Week 5 win before putting forth its best effort of the season Sunday against the Cardinals.
The Vikings allowed a season-low 269 yards against Arizona while not allowing the Cardinals to convert on any of their 10 third-down tries.
Linebacker Anthony Barr explained the recent turnaround:
“I think we just kind of honed in on what we do well, tried to go back to that and simplify things a little bit,” Barr said. “In the offseason you have all this time to come up with all these great ideas, and then I think sometimes it doesn’t go exactly how you drew it up.
“So you kind of get back to knowing who you are, your identity, doing what you do well, and it’s helped us be successful,” Barr added.
The fourth-year linebacker has 33 total tackles (according to coaches’ tally) with three tackles for loss, two passes defensed and a forced fumble so far this season.
“I feel like I’ve kind, I don’t know, just played more carefree,” said Barr, who has made three straight Pro Bowls. “Kind of going out, understanding what my job is … just getting to the ball and trying to make plays. I don’t know, just being myself.”
Welcome back, David Parry
David Parry is back in Purple.
The Vikings brought back the defensive tackle earlier this week after Parry spent training camp, the preseason and the first two games of the 2018 season with Minnesota.
Parry, who recorded a sack in Minnesota’s Week 2 tie at Green Bay, said he had been working out at home in Iowa, staying in shape in case a team wanted to sign him.
It turns out that team was the one he has a history with.
“I was a little disappointed [when I was released], but that’s part of the business,” Parry said about initially being released by the Vikings. “I’m just happy to be back now.”
“Even when I got let go here, I was told to stay in shape and that they liked me a lot,” Parry later added. “It just came down to a numbers thing and that they’d like to get me back here eventually. They were true to their word.”
For the Vikings: Linval Joseph (ankle/knee/shoulder), Andrew Sendejo (groin), Riley Reiff (foot) and Everson Griffen (not injury related) did not participate. Tashawn Bower (ankle), Jaleel Johnson (ankle), Dalvin Cook (hamstring), Stephen Weatherly (ribs) and Kevin McDermott (hand) were full participants.
For the Jets: Buster Skrine (concussion), Isaiah Crowell (foot), Robby Anderson (hamstring), Leonard Williams (back), Kevin Pierre-Louis (foot), Trumaine Johnson (quad), Terrelle Pryor (groin), Quincy Enunwa (ankle) and Marcus Maye (thumb) did not practice. Spencer Long (knee/finger) was limited. Andre Roberts (foot/ankle), Brandon Copeland (ankle), Doug Middleton (hamstring), Sam Darnold (right elbow), Jamal Adams (ankle), Charon Peake (hamstring), Nathan Shepherd (shoulder) and Kelvin Beachum (foot) were full participants.