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Now is the time for Paul Richardson to step up

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

On Monday, it was announced that Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett had surgery to repair a broken tibia and fibula suffered against the Arizona Cardinals. Pete Carroll, ever optimistic, said it was a “great surgery” and that Lockett could be up and moving again in 4-6 weeks. Were this October, we might talk about Lockett returning for the playoffs.

Since there’s only one game left in the regular season though, that seems unlikely.

So now is really when we have to start putting some pressure on Paul Richardson to perform. I mean, not like, you and me personally — I’m sure Richardson is under pressure enough from the coaching staff and himself — that’s not our duty, but in the world of talking about “the future of Paul Richardson in Seattle,” it’s really now or perhaps never.

The 45th overall pick in 2014, only five players have been higher draft picks by John Schneider and Carroll than Richardson was. Consider that even Golden Tate was only the 60th overall pick in 2010. Tate was also slow to develop, not becoming a regular until his third season, but Richardson’s setbacks have been even more concerning because he’s combined a lack of on-field production with a laundry list of concerning injuries involving the ACL and hamstring areas.

But this season, Richardson has kept himself off of the injury report, mostly; the hamstring issue flared up in early December and he missed a game. Overall, he’s had an opportunity to play a season as if he weren’t hurt and the result is 17 catches for 248 yards and a touchdown. With Lockett missing most of Saturday’s game, Richardson caught four of five targets for 42 yards and that score. Earlier in the season, with Lockett injured vs the LA Rams, Richardson played 45 snaps. He was targeted six times and had three catches for 35 yards.

The team will also need Richardson for kickoff return duties, as Lockett was doing pretty good in that area too.

No matter the situation, the Seahawks will need Richardson to tap into the talent he showed coming out of Colorado in 2014, where he had a pretty exciting highlight reel. He’s not on the level of someone like Lockett, but all they really need him to be at this point is more effective than Jermaine Kearse. It may also be the case that they get Tanner McEvoy more involved in the passing game, but if a second round pick can’t get more playing time than a rookie undrafted free agent who wasn’t even a receiver in college, then that may be all we need to know about Richardson and his future prospects.

This is a second chance that Richardson wouldn’t be getting if it weren’t for something extremely unfortunate happening to Lockett. We can only hope for Seattle’s sake and his sake that he’s able to take full advantage of it. The talent is there, the opportunity is there, but will the production follow?

The Seahawks postseason hopes aren’t necessarily depending on it, but it sure would be help.