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Richardson turns heads at training camp

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Natchez High School and Jackson State alumnus Rico Richardson is soaking in everything there is to learn at training camp.

Richardson, who went undrafted this past spring before signing a free agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, has been turning heads at the Chiefs’ training camp, which began approximately two weeks ago. He said he and the coaches have been pleased with the progress he’s shown.

“Everything has been going great,” Richardson said. “I’ve basically just been reviewing the playbook since I’ve been here, and I’m getting better and better every day.”

Though the playbook is more complicated than what he was used to at Jackson State, Richardson said he feels like he’s gotten it down for the most part.

“I’m just reviewing now,” Richardson said. “It’s not too much harder than college, there are just more formations and more plays.”

Richardson said he’s gotten a lot of good feedback from the Chiefs coaches since training camp began.

“They love my routes and my speed,” Richardson said. “They love the way I catch, and they just say I have to keep it up and work hard. Even on special teams, I’m just out there to help the team.”

Though some rookies might get caught up in the size and speed of the NFL, Richardson said the biggest difference between professional and college football is a bit subtler.

“It’s not about how fast or strong you are, but it’s just the simple things, like getting the right depth on your route or making the right block on a running play,” Richardson said. “It’s the simple things that keep you in the league a long time.”

Watching players like star receiver Dwayne Bowe also goes a long way in picking up on those little things, as Richardson calls them.

“The other players try to help you with the simple things,” Richardson said. “Like, if you’re trying to run a slant, maybe you need to take an outside reach. You can’t always get open in one move. They just tell you ways you can get open.”

As he vies for a spot on the 53-man roster, Richardson said he’s not trying to overthink things.

“There’s pressure, but I try not to think too much,” he said. “I leave it in God’s hands. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. I’m just out here giving 100 percent.”

As far as having a support group, Richardson said he relies on his family to help him on his journey to hopefully making an NFL roster.

“They’re always behind me no matter what,” Richardson said. “I can always just call on them if I need anything.”

Local fans might have divided loyalties tonight when Richardson and the Chiefs take on the New Orleans Saints at 7 p.m. in a preseason game. Richardson said he knows Natchez is a Saints stronghold, but he’s hopeful fans will throw some support his way.

“They tell me they’re rooting for the Saints, but if I make a good play, they’ll root for me at the same time,” Richardson said.