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EAGAN Minn.Sheldon Richardson‘s NFL career began smoothly, Cris Carter Jersey

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with the New York Jets, until off-the-field trouble and locker-room conflict precipitated his eventual departure.Guided by some important gains in maturity, Richardson has found a niche two stops later in Minnesota. This weekend, when the Vikings visit the Jets, he’ll have his first opportunity to vent any bad feelings with a winning performance against his old team for trading him.More Vikings coverageVikings coordinators: Defending Brees, Holton Hill’s role, a Minneapolis Miracle story and moreWATCH: Cris Carter Jersey The second annual Minnesota Sports AwardsVikings welcome Everson Griffen back to practiceVikings captain Griffen returns to team activitiesVikings Snap Counts: Rookie Hill shines with Rhodes ailingAs outspoken as Richardson has been at times, this was not a subject he was willing to touch when reporters asked him about his return to MetLife Stadium to face the Jets on Sunday afternoon.“Another game. I never put myself above the team,” Richardson said. “Whatever personal vendetta I have is between me.”As for the deal that sent him to Seattle for the final year of his rookie contract, right before the 2017 regular season?“It’s a business,” said Richardson, who played one season for the Seahawks, became a free agent and signed a one-year deal with the Vikings.Richardson played up to his first-round draft pick status by winning The Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2013. Then he had a career-high eight sacks and was picked for the Pro Bowl in 2014, the last season under coach Rex Ryan before Todd Bowles took over.Richardson served a four-game suspension in 2015, though, for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He also was suspended for the 2016 season opener for an arrest in his home state of Missouri for driving at high speeds and resisting arrest.Then there was his conflict with wide receiver Brandon Marshalland the public criticisms he expressed that contributed to some bad team chemistry.“I did some things for me to get out of there for them to trade me,” Richardson said, “and other than that I put it on myself, nobody else.”Richardson continued his candid reflection before practice on Wednesday, acknowledging the character development he has undergone.“It was kind of self-inflicted wounds,” he said. “It’s just now me overcoming my personal battles in life. They got me out of there, and that changed everything around there. That’s pretty much it. I pretty much grew from everywhere. Every point, every phase of my life, I grew from it.”Richardson had only one sack last year for the Seahawks Chris Doleman Jersey Black Friday , his first season in a primarily 4-3 scheme after playing in a 3-4 system with the Jets that saw him playing some at outside linebacker. With the Vikings, Richardson has settled in nicely at the three-technique position next to Linval Joseph.He has only one sack, but less-tangible contributions in pass pressure and run disruption are more important to making coach Mike Zimmer’s system work. Richardson is tied for eighth in the NFL with 10 quarterback hits, and there’s no coincidence that defensive end Danielle Hunter is thriving off his presence inside taking on frequent double-teams.“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’re trying to teach him,” Zimmer said. “His professionalism, how he handles himself in the meetings, he’s been really good with everything.” EAGAN, Minn. 鈥?As Kirk Cousins backpedaled in the pocket with Minnesota on the move late in the first half last week, Adam Thielen broke for the back corner of the end zone.Cousins had to make an off-balance throw to beat a fast-approaching Michael Bennett, and Thielen had little room left in bounds to secure the catch with two Philadelphia defenders a step behind him.The ball floated just over the outstretched arm of cornerback Jalen Mills and neatly into Thielen’s hands in time for him to hit both feet on the turf and give the Vikings a two-touchdown lead on Sunday. Mills was flagged for holding to add to the degree of difficulty on the play.More Vikings coverageVikings coordinators: Defending Brees, Holton Hill’s role, a Minneapolis Miracle story and moreWATCH: The second annual Minnesota Sports AwardsVikings welcome Everson Griffen back to practiceVikings captain Griffen returns to team activitiesVikings Snap Counts: Rookie Hill shines with Rhodes ailingBut about one-third of the way through the first season for Cousins in Minnesota the fact that the pass was completed was hardly a surprise.“He does such a good job of just making it easy on us,” said Thielen, who leads the NFL with 47 receptions and is second with 589 yards. “We just worry about getting open, and he’s almost catching the ball for us. We just have to continue to make sure that we’re doing the little things to be at the right depth and the right timing of things, because it’s so important when you have a guy that’s as talented as him to be in the right spot at the right time.”With a quickly formed faith in Thielen and the rest of the Vikings receivers, Cousins has repeatedly succeeded in threading pinpoint throws into tight windows with “a little guts and a little bit of arm talent,” as coach Mike Zimmer put it recently.Cousins ranks fifth in the NFL with a 71.2 percent completion rate that doesn’t tell the full story of his precision. He’s been under pressure as frequently as any of his peers, with 35 hits taken (tied for seventh most in the league) and 14 sacks allowed (11th most) by the Vikings that could easily be more if Cousins didn’t have a quicker release.The tying touchdown pass to Thielen in the final minute of the fourth quarter at Green Bay on Sept. 16 was the most memorable example to date. Cousins, as he was about to be hit, somehow zipped the ball between two converging defenders into the arms of Thielen for him to fall backward into the end zone while maintaining possession. The Packers couldn’t have covered that much better.“If it was an inch left or an inch higher or an inch lower it gets knocked down,” Thielen said.Sometimes, there’s a little luck in play , too.10View Gallery Gallery:PHOTOS: Vikings at EaglesMatt Rourke | Associated Press“If that was a random second down in the middle of the second quarter, I would’ve been like, ‘Hey, that one’s a little tight,'” Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “But if you’re trying to drive down and win the football game, there’s less than a minute to go in the game, those are the chances you have to take.”Even if the quarterback himself isn’t sure the pass will reach the target.“It’s a fast game, and if you think you’re going to throw every throw with great vision and a great understanding of where the ball is going, I think you’re fooling yourself,” Cousins said. “There’s a lot of throws that I make, especially last Sunday, where I’m trying to listen to the crowd’s reaction to decide if it was complete or incomplete because I’m looking through peoples’ shins to try to see what happened. That’s the nature of this league.”There’s no more important trait at this position than being able to consistently put the ball in the right place, even as a youth. In the opening credits for the TV show “Friday Night Lights,” high school quarterback Matt Saracen is shown throwing into a tire hanging in his front yard in fictional Dillon, Texas. For an NFL standout like Cousins, that accuracy was always there. He’s been able to develop and improve it.“It’s innate. You either have it or you don’t,” Cousins said.7View Gallery Gallery:Upon Further Review: Vikings at EaglesMatt Rourke | Associated PressSome of his counterparts who were more runners and scramblers in high school and college have had a harder time with pro-style precision.“I was actually pretty slow as a kid, wasn’t a great athlete, so I had no choice but to stand in there and find a way to throw the football from the pocket,” he said, “and I think in the long run that’s served me well.”
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