When you watch rookie Sheldon Richardson doing anything, he is having fun. Whether it is on the field or off, Richardson carries himself with a youthful exuberance that seems only natural for a 22-year-old living his childhood dream.
Even the nerves that are natural for any rookie playing in his first professional game were no match for the exuberant defensive tackle Friday night in Detroit.
"I was out there having too much fun to have any pressure on me," Sheldon said. "I've been playing football for a while and I'm just embracing the moment."
Saturday night the Jets welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars into MetLife Stadium for the second game of the preseason. This game will have a slightly different feel, however, as Jets Nation will be getting its first sight of their beloved Gang Green under the bright lights of their home ballpark.
"It's going to be exciting, man — first home game!" Richardson said. "Get to put that green jersey on, I can't wait. I just hope we get a big fan base to come out and get us started."
The past three weeks have been a series of ups and downs for everybody on the Jets roster, each practice complete with its own laundry list of impressive plays and some not-so-impressive ones.
Richardson did not feel it was his place to gauge his performance through the entirety of camp.
"I don't really have an overall say," he said, "I worked hardy every day, got better. That's for the coaches to decide. I just know I give 100 percent every play."
While the Missouri product may not have much to say about his own play, his performance during camp has caught the eye of his coaches and teammates. Antonio Cromartie, one of the most valuable members of the Jets defense, had nothing but praise for the rookie defensive tackle.
"I love the way he carries himself," Cromartie said after the final camp practice Wednesday. "He's a guy that can make a lot of plays for us. He has the confidence in himself to go out and play at this level."
The daily grind of an NFL training camp coupled with the pressure associated with being a first-round draft pick has the tendency to wear on a player over time. But even as the Jets broke camp early Thursday and headed home to the Atlantic Health Training Center, Sheldon Richardson is not allowing himself any deep breaths.
"You have to stay full; you have to stay focused, man, pedal to the metal," he said. "This is only the preseason. I know it's a whole other animal when the season rolls around. I have to make sure I'm ready for that. For me, there's no pedaling down."
As impressive as Richardson had been throughout the Jets' time at SUNY Cortland, he also made it clear that he's got a lot more in store for opposing offenses as well as fans of the Green & White.
"My pass rush moves?" he said with his ever-present grin. "I got a few more up my sleeve."
|JETS-JAGUARS RIVALRY FACTS||Record/Score|
|Preseason Series Record||0-0|
|Last Game||First Meeting|
|Regular-Season Series Record||Jaguars, 6-4|
|Last Game||Jets, 17-10, 2012|
|Last Game at MetLife Stadium||Jets, 32-3, 2011|
|Postseason Series Record||Jets, 1-0|
|Last Game||Jets, 34-24, 1998|