As the team’s leading returning rusher, it stood to reason that speedy Daryl Richardson would be the odds-on favorite to win what many figured would be a close battle to claim the starting running back job.
Since camp has begun, Richardson has done nothing to endanger that status and, in fact, has probably put a bit of distance between himself and competitors such as Isaiah Pead, Terrance Ganaway and rookies Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham.
A week after Richardson looked sharp in the preseason opener against Cleveland with 24 yards on four carries, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer confirmed that Richardson is ahead, but also noted that there’s still time for one of the others to make a push.
“I think Daryl played really, really well last week,” Schottenheimer said. “I think Isaiah’s definitely got to play some catch-up. But again, we’re not just looking at one game. He’s got a whole preseason to look at. We were very pleased with the way Daryl played last week. They’ve both done really well in practice. Would I say Daryl has the lead? Sure, but there’s a ways to go, and we expect good things from Isaiah this weekend.”
“I think Isaiah’s done some amazing things in training camp,” Schottenheimer said. “Obviously he was disappointed last week in the fumble. We talked about that with him. We said, ‘Hey, don’t let one play take away all the great things you’ve done.’ He’s made play after play, so again, try to get him some more reps. Obviously he’s still a young player. You’ve got to teach him. But build on the great things he’s doing out here on the practice field and carry that over to the field.”
At this point, Richardson is the RB to own in the St. Louis backfield, though Pead could press him for touches as the season wears on. Consider Richardson a middle-of-the-road RB3 with upside if he earns a big workload.