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Thread: What's the Call? 'Ask Shaq'

  1. #1
    Hall of Famer SteelCrazy's Avatar
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    What's the Call? 'Ask Shaq'



    By Jim Wexell

    Being a psychology major, Steelers rookie cornerback Shaquille Richardson had a pretty good idea why Mike Tomlin quizzed him relentlessly during spring practices.

    "Coach Tomlin's a great coach, and great coaches give every player what they need," said Richardson, the Steelers' fifth-round draft pick out of Arizona. "But it's not like he only helps me out on the field. He helps everybody else out, and I noticed that, too. I appreciate him helping me and coaching me."

    At any moment this past spring, before any snap -- and often the very first snap of any scrimmage -- Tomlin could be heard hollering out, "What are we in, Shaq?"
    "He wants to heighten my awareness and bring up my intensity and make sure I'm wired in and ready to go," Richardson said in early June.

    Were Richardson's answers correct?

    "He caught me sometimes," Richardson said. "But most of the time I got it right."

    Maybe Tomlin figured he had to get Richardson ready. After all, in a draft in which the Steelers were said to have needed help at cornerback, all they got was this fifth-rounder with a questionable past.

    Out of the rough streets of Compton, an inner Los Angeles suburb, Richardson was recruited by UCLA, but dismissed soon thereafter because he and three others, including Seattle rookie Paul Richardson, stole a backpack out of a locker.

    Shaq went to Arizona, where Mike Stoops was on the coaching hot seat, and in his first game Richardson intercepted two passes against Washington State and was named the PAC 10 Player of the Week.

    "Who was the quarterback?" Richards repeated in asking his locker-mate.

    "Jeff Tuel," said Steelers teammate Robert Golden. "He played for Buffalo when E.J. Manuel went down last year. He wasn't too bad."

    Golden was another cornerback/safety type at Arizona. The two spent two years together in the five-man Arizona secondary before Golden joined the Steelers.

    After Richardson's impressive debut, he started three games as a freshman before becoming a three-year starter under Stoops and then new coach Rich Rodriguez.

    In his four seasons at Arizona, Richardson intercepted 10 passes and broke up 37. His finest game may have been against Oregon last season, when on the first play Richardson spectacularly tipped a Marcus Mariota sideline pass back onto the field for an interception. On the last defensive play, Richardson intercepted Mariota to clinch a major upset.

    The first play seemed to be the obvious highlight. "It was on SportsCenter so it was highly regarded," Richardson said of the tip-back. "It felt regular to me. It's instinctual football. But when I saw it, I have to say it did look nice."

    Richardson said he liked the last play just as much. "You start and finish the game," he said. "You want to start something off well and you always want to finish. Coach Tomlin preaches finishing a lot."

    Richardson obviously feels a close association with Tomlin, and why shouldn't he? It was Tomlin who took a chance on Richardson. Even though Richardson had experience, size (6-0.1, 194), speed (4.43 40/6.95 3-cone at his pro day) and a 38 1/2-inch vertical jump, he wasn't invited to the combine. But Tomlin checked with Lake on Richardson's background and got a "thumbs up" from his defensive backfield coach.

    "I moved forward from all of that and learned from my mistakes. I'm a better person now," Richardson said of his freshman foul-up. "Coach sees that, and I think everybody else does, too."

    Richardson started slowly in the spring, but clearly made progress. He's currently in Florida working with Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen and William Gay at Tom Shaw's Performance Camp.

    "I need to come back better for training camp," Richardson said. "I thought I did well in the spring. A couple practices in I was more intent on making sure I knew the call. It wasn't just coach asking me anymore. Everybody else was asking for the call. If anybody wanted the call, it was 'Ask Shaq,' because I'm always paying attention now."

    Yep, a little psychology can go a long way.

    Ask Shaq.

    http://pit.scout.com/story/1422726-w...-ask-shaq?s=68

  2. #2
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    Wouldn't it be wonderful if this kid can play at the NFL level? He has the physical tools, but he lasted until the 5th for a reason. 4.5 speed. But awwwwww, I see why he is in Pgh. Lake was the secondary coach when they were both at UCLA. Gotcha.

  3. #3
    Hall of Famer SteelCrazy's Avatar
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    All of Shaq's weaknesses are correctable. It's all a matter of if he wants to be a great CB or a serviceable CB. His weaknesses are: Tends to squat on routes. Lacks eye discipline to sort out run-pass reads -- is late to locate the ball and support the run. Benched in 2012 for lapses in coverage and needs to become more consistent recognizing/supporting the run and securing open-field tackles....according to NFL.com.

    Lake can finally coach the player he recruited out of High School and hopefully his hunger is that of a man with a tape worm.

  4. #4
    Hall of Famer Djfan's Avatar
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    Good for him. Seriously. You can almost feel his passion now that he has a chance. I hope he is the next Mel Blount.

    My only comment is that I get sick of the "I did something stupid, but now I have learned my lesson" nonsense. I hope that willingness to ignore Mama is out of his system.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Djfan View Post
    My only comment is that I get sick of the "I did something stupid, but now I have learned my lesson" nonsense.
    You would prefer, "I didn't do anything wrong"? "Those were some trumped up charges"?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Slapstick View Post
    You would prefer, "I didn't do anything wrong"? "Those were some trumped up charges"?
    I thought it was a strange comment as well. I mean the guy put a few years of good citizenship together after doing something stupid as a freshman. I don't see the issue.

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    Question-what's with the Legendary Pictures logo in the uniform?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by 8467thekraken View Post
    Question-what's with the Legendary Pictures logo in the uniform?
    IIRC, a dude named Thomas Tull runs Legendary Pictures and is also a minority owner of the Steelers....

    He's the one who arranged for the Batman segments to be filmed at Heinz Field...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slapstick View Post
    IIRC, a dude named Thomas Tull runs Legendary Pictures and is also a minority owner of the Steelers....

    He's the one who arranged for the Batman segments to be filmed at Heinz Field...
    Thanks for the info, Slapstick. I did not know that.

  10. #10
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    I still don't get why he wasn't regarded enough for a Combine invite. Talented kid--talented enough to be recruited by UCLA, good size, good speed, good experience. There something that we aren't seeing. I'm trying to be optimistic about him (i.e. Richard Sherman was also a late round, Pac-10 CB). But with Sherman, we learn he was a converted WR, as well as didn't get along with his head coach. With this guy, I don't know why he wasn't better.

    At this point, I feel like he is more Curtis Brown or Terry Hawthorne than he is Richard Sherman.
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