Rams History: Daryl Richardson was a Ram.
Daryl Richardson was a Ram. And then he wasn’t.
That’s as accurate a description as I can give. Richardson was at the right place at the right time in 2012 and found himself in the exact opposite situation come the following season. His story leading him to St. Louis was inspiring, and his story leading him out was forgettable. It’s interesting and boring at the same time and I am confident and not confident in how well the blog about him will be received.
GUESS WE’LL SEE!
For starters, let’s provide some context.
Like a lot of guys picked in the much later rounds of the NFL draft, Richardson had to work harder than anyone. But in his case, Richardson also had to study harder than anyone. He was a physical talent hamstrung by his academic performance, more specifically his test scores. So, he hit the books as hard as he hit the hole in high school. His tenacity paid off as he was given the chance to attend the highly-touted Abilene Christian University, a Division II program.
Richardson took the opportunity at ACU and ran for more than 2,300 rushing yards during his collegiate career. The work didn’t go unnoticed. Then-head coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead took Richardson in the seventh round of the draft and the rookie back eventually became the third horse in the stable that year, behind only Rams legend Steven Jackson and a second-round pick, Isaiah Pead.
As I said earlier, Richardson came into the league at the right place and at the right time. Richardson needed opportunities to get carries in NFL games and the Rams needed backs who could switch the pace up when Jackson needed rest. The rookie back also wasn’t expected to take up the mantle as “lead back”, which meant he could take his rookie year as a time to learn while getting the occasional carry.
And Richardson thrived in that situation.
Through 16 games, Richardson received 99 carries and rushed for 475 yards, a 2-PT conversion score and 163 receiving yards. Not bad for a rookie. He even out-produced Pead, who was expected to be a major piece in the Rams offense. But he was sidelined at the start of the year due to a preseason injury, leaving Richardson to pick up the No. 2 duties.
Richardson recorded double-digit carries twice in a game: against Washington at home and against Miami on the road. Each game saw Richardson run for more than 60 yards. Against Washington, he rushed for more than 80 yards and tore off a 53-yard run.
Richardson beat out the competition of Pead, fifth-round pick Zac Stacy and Terrick Ganaway, another 2nd-year man. While Richardson was expected to take on the workhorse role that Jackson held for so many years, he was expected to build upon a promising rookie year, at least until Pead returned to the field.
The Cincinnati product received another late start to the year, this time stemming from breaking the league’s performance-enhancing policy.
The Rams offense was young but had promising talent and an offensive line that looked solid, the latter being the most exciting part of the season.
But Richardson never met those expectations. From Week One, his carries dwindled week by week until it hit zero Week Nine. Stacy, meanwhile, led a successful campaign into the starting role and became the lead back.
The Rams began the year 1-0 vs. the Arizona Cardinals in the home opener, where Richardson rushed for 29% of his total season yards (63). But that’s where Richardson’s story ended. At least with the Rams, anyway.
What makes Richardson’s story so interesting is the fact that it happened the way that it did, through no fault of Richardson’s own. As a former TurfShowTimes writer once put it, “Richardson is the least-skilled running back among himself, Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy.” And every word of that was true despite some saying otherwise.
After 2013, Richardson left the Rams and was never really heard from again. He played with the New York Jets but never took a snap as a running back and his career ended with a few stops here and there to fill an active roster spot or practice squad jersey.
Richardson was a part of the 2012 Rams Renaissance. He was an active member of the offense and came in when the Rams needed a complementary back the most.
Richardson’s impact on the Rams was still meaningful, even if it was short-lived.