Will Richardson lined up in front of a rolled up, T-shaped beach towel on Tuesday morning and stepped hard off his left foot in a run-blocking drill.
It was another test for Richardson to show he’s picking up first-year Jaguars offensive line coach George Warhop’s emphasis on perfecting the fundamentals, especially proper footwork, during organized team activity workouts.
After a humbling rookie season in 2018, during which he never played in a game despite being a fourth-round pick, Richardson has had to refocus.
He’s vowed not to fall behind or become overwhelmed from the demands — issues he experienced last year, beginning with the offseason program.
“The whole offseason I thought about what I could do to get better,” Richardson said. “I came in a few weeks early before we started the first phase of the offseason program, and I worked and worked. Coming out here last year, I got thrown everything at once. I was a little off on certain things.”
Though he is considered to be in the mix with second-round pick Jawaan Taylor and fifth-year veteran Cedric Ogbuehi for the starting right tackle job, Richardson understands his roster spot could be at stake if he underperforms or availability issues arise again.
Taylor should be the frontrunner to win the job. Assuming he does, Richardson will be competing primarily with Ogbuehi and Josh Wells as a swing tackle/depth option.
Richardson, 23, fell behind last year after suffering a shoulder injury in the preseason. Injury problems lingered into the regular season, and a knee problem forced him onto injured reserve in October.
The Jaguars drafted Richardson out of N.C. State with the 129th overall pick in 2018 with the idea he would eventually replace right tackle Jermey Parnell. Those plans were put on hold because of injuries.
Going into the second day of OTAs on Thursday, the 6-foot-6, 303-pound Richardson said he feels better than he ever has. He plans to stick to his goal of losing more body fat and strengthen his upper body before the regular season begins in September.
“I have no aches, no turns, no bangs,” Richardson said. “I just feel really good.”
Coach Doug Marrone said it’s a big year for Richardson. Improved production is critical. Availability is, too.
“He’s got to get out there and play,” Marrone said. “We’ve already sat down and told him basically, ‘Last year you were injured. You’ve got to get out there and show us what you can do.’”
The Jaguars’ offensive line was ravaged by injuries last season. That led to Marrone using four different starting left tackles and three starting right tackles.
Left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder and Parnell all finished the year on injured reserve. Robinson, who suffered a torn left ACL Week 2 against New England, continues to rehabilitate.
Norwell and Linder were on the field for the start of OTAs. Parnell was released in March.
Following their 5-11 season, Marrone parted ways with offensive line coach Pat Flaherty and hired Warhop to replace him.
Warhop, who began his NFL career as an assistant in St. Louis (1996-97), is known for his focus on fundamentals and developing young players. He’s already made a significant impact on Richardson.
“I feel like all the things we’ve done in the offseason program is going to show up when you have a person in front of you,” Richardson said. “Coach Warhop makes it a lot easier from using our techniques. We’re not really blocking anyone, it has been all footwork.”