Rookie cornerbacks don't start for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rod Woodson didn't, Ike Taylor didn't and it doesn't look like Shaquille Richardson will break that trend this upcoming season.
However, Shaquille "Shaq" Richardson could be an answer for the Steelers lack of depth at the cornerback position. Current cornerbacks on the team are as follows: Ike Taylor, William Gay, Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake, Isaiah Green, Brice McCain, Devin Smith, and of course Shaq Richardson.
That depth chart doesn't really scream quality, now does it?
The Pittsburgh Steelers took a chance on Richardson, and it was a resounding recommendation of the Steelers' secondary coach, Carnell Lake, that had the team draft Richardson in the 5th round.
Richardson, who wasn't even invited to the NFL scouting combine, is learning the ropes as a Pittsburgh Steeler cornerback, and head coach Mike Tomlin was making sure the rookie was mentally prepared for the NFL stage by quizzing the cornerback repeatedly during the team's spring practices.
"He wants to heighten my awareness and bring up my intensity and make sure I'm wired in and ready to go." Richardson told Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider.
Being "ready to go" is something that Richardson must be prepared for as he enters his first training camp. He will be counted on to be quality depth at the cornerback position, and that quality is desperately needed.
"I need to come back better for training camp," "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."
Richardson's learning curve will be steep, but after spring practices the acclimation process should be a bit smoother with Richardson's attention to detail, skill set and size that could have him seeing the field in situations outside of special teams.
Is the cornerback depth on the Steelers' roster a question heading into training camp? It most certainly is, but Shaquille Richardson might be the answer.