Seahawks’ Kris Richard, Cardinals’ Carson Palmer go back to USC
RENTON – Long before Carson Palmer ever became the focal point of Kris Richard’s defensive game-plan, he was a teammate.
This was more than a decade ago at USC, were Richard was a starting cornerback on the same Trojans teams that were quarterbacked by Palmer.
That connection was brought up Thursday as Richard, Seattle’s first-year defensive coordinator, was talking about facing Palmer and the Cardinals in Sunday’s regular-season finale.
The two were teammates under Pete Carroll at USC from 1998-2001. Richard was a three-year starter who went on to be drafted by Seattle in the third round in 2002. Palmer started as a true freshman and won the Heisman Trophy as a senior before he was drafted No. 1 overall by Cincinnati in 2003.
“He was this über talented individual,” Richard said when asked what he remembers about playing with Palmer. “He came in and played right away as a freshman. That was the one thing that stood out about him is that when he stepped on campus, he had this monstrous, rocket arm. He always had this savviness and composed nature about him. When the light bulb clicked for him, it was like, ‘look out.’ Prolific passer as always, so it’s been that way.”
Did Richard ever intercept Palmer in practice?
“All the time. All the time,” he said with a smile. “He knew better. Don’t throw it to my side.”
Richard’s connection to Palmer is another interesting subplot to a matchup that already has plenty of intrigue.
Here’s more from Richard’s media availability on Thursday:
• Richard said the reasoning for Seattle switching back and forth between DeShawn Shead and Jeremy Lane at right cornerback Sunday against St. Louis was about matchups. Lane was there for much of the time when the Seahawks were in their base defense. When Seattle was in nickel, he would slide inside to the slot with Shead replacing him on the outside. Asked if he would prefer to have one or the other play consistently at right cornerback, Richard said he feels comfortable alternating.
• Carroll has raved about the way Kelcie McCray has played at strong safety in Kam Chancellor’s absence for most of the last three games. Richard did the same: “He’s done a really good job coming in and filling a huge role. Obviously, there’s a bit of a void whenever Kam can’t play, but just in regards to his assignment was the huge thing for him right there. Obviously, the more he’s able to play, the better he’ll get. Have no complaints about him at all. He went out there, he did a fantastic job for us. Knew where he was supposed to fit, knew where he was supposed to cover. He did a fantastic job.”
• Richard stressed the importance of sound tackling against Cardinals running back David Johnson, who’s listed at 6 foot 1 and 224 pounds: “Big back. Big, young back, fresh legs, powerful guy. We know we’ve got to put hats on the ball-carrier. We’ve got wrap this guy up, we’ve got to get him on the ground. He’s broken a lot of tackles. So that’s the main thing, is that when we put our body on him, we have to make sure that we are wrapping and getting him on the ground.”