Richards hopes rookie-year injuries are behind him
If there isn't pressure on the CFL'S first overall draft choice, there certainly are expectations. And linebacker Tyrell Richards failed to deliver them through an injury-prone rookie season with the Alouettes.
“Disappointing,” the weakside linebacker said on Wednesday following the Als' training camp practice at Stade Diablos, summarizing what transpired last season. “I just wanted to come out, stay healthy and be able to compete, but I wasn't able to do that. This year I came in, not with a different mindset, but an understanding it can be taken away. I'm putting myself in position to stay healthy all season.”
Als general manager Danny Maciocia thought so highly of the sixfoot-four, 240-pounder, he moved up in the draft, from fourth overall, trading with Edmonton to ensure he had first crack at the prospect. But Richards was limited to seven games, producing five tackles and four more on special teams.
Richards played college ball at Syracuse, where he had 54 tackles, 9.5 tackles for losses and six quarterback sacks in 31 games. He was inactive in 2021, hoping to transfer schools but denied due to a lack of applicable credits. Richards doesn't believe that dormancy led to his injuries, which included a fractured elbow, although he altered his off-season workout routine.
“I didn't feel pressure,” Richards said. “There's pressure going first overall, but you come out here and it's just football. There will be more expectations from people, but not more than I expect from myself. Whether I was drafted first overall or last overall I'd expect the same out of myself. Come out here, compete and put myself in the best position to start and be healthy.”
With his athleticism, size and physicality — he ran a 4.6-second 40 at the CFL combine, remarkably fast for a player his size — Richards expects to contribute to the Als' revamped defence, although it likely will be in a backup role behind Tyrice Beverette.
Although Montreal was four games into its season when Noel Thorpe replaced Barron Miles as defensive co-ordinator, Richards was the starting middle-linebacker in the first game following the switch, Aug. 14 against Edmonton. But the following week, against Ottawa, Richards went down, missing the next two months.
The Als will hold a walk-through Thursday morning before breaking camp. Montreal entertains Hamilton Friday night in its final exhibition game.