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Posted Sep 7, 2010

Barry Richardson is sitting in an important role for the Chiefs as the team prepares for San Diego

Brandon Flowers, Glenn Dorsey, Jovan Belcher and Tyson Jackson are all second and third-year players. They help form the group that Todd Haley has talked about so much thus far in 2010. The Chiefs are counting on these young players to play a critical role for the Chiefs this season.

But the list doesn’t end there.

Andy Studebaker is part of that group, as are Brandon Carr and Jamaal Charles. Most of the names included are familiar, but there are also a few that generally go overlooked. One of those players is Barry Richardson, and Richardson is currently in line to play a very important role for the Chiefs.

“Barry is one of those two, three-year guys that I sat up here when the season ended and said you can’t just go to the grocery store and pick by everybody you want to fill every need you feel you have, some needs being greater than others, but this is a guy that falls into that group that I felt like developed throughout last year,” Haley said.

For the last two weeks, Richardson has served as the Chiefs starting right tackle and back-up left tackle. Last Thursday night, he started in place of an injured Ryan O’Callaghan on the right edge and then relieved Branden Albert on the left side with the second-team offense.

O’Callaghan has been out of practice since August 24th and his status for the season opener is unclear. We should learn more about O’Callaghan as the week progresses. But even if O’Callaghan were to return and practice in full, Richardson would still be the primary backup at both tackle positions. In fact, he’s the only reserve tackle listed on the Chiefs 53-man roster.

“My mindset going into every week is that I have to contribute to the team and do my job,” Richardson said. “Right now my job is to step in. I’ll be a left tackle if they need me there, or a right tackle if they need me on the right side.”

It appears that Richardson’s off-season development is speaking for itself.

A year ago at this time, Richardson was coming off waivers. He had been cut during the final slice of the roster coming out of training camp. The Chiefs put him on practice squad and eventually elevated back to the 53-man roster several weeks later when injuries dictated.

In a year’s amount of time, Richardson has gone from a player that wasn’t able to crack the initial 53-man roster, to a player that the team is currently relying on to be the sole backup at both tackle positions. To get into this role, Richardson had to prove his keep on the field in both practices and games. He also had to do it while playing hurt.

Over a one-week period in which nothing seemed to go right for the offensive line on the injury front, Richardson suffered a knee injury. It occurred in Atlanta when a defender rolled into his knee during Tyler Palko’s one-yard TD dive in the fourth quarter.

The injury could have been a significant setback for the player trying to show his coaches proof of off-season progress; progress that had to be shown in order to take the next step in his NFL career. Richardson pushed through rehab and returned to the field about a week later.

“He came to a crossroads where he was kind of beat up but we needed him, he wanted to show us that he’s continuing to take steps,” Haley said. “He got in there, he played probably more snaps than anybody else played in the preseason.”

Often soft-spoken, Richardson understood that part of proving his keep was in answering the bell when the team needed him the most this preseason.  

 “Just pushing through injury is part of the game and one other step that you have to take in order to be the best player that you can be,” Richardson said.

Haley spoke of depth concerns last week and the offensive line is no exception. With NFL roster limitation currently set the way that they are, backup offensive linemen have to be able to play versatile roles. In those reserve spots include a young player in Richardson and a rookie in Jon Asamoah.

“Those are the critical guys for us because you can’t fill every hole so we need to have our second, third and fourth, even fifth-year guys continue to develop, make progress and help us to be better, be part of that process of us improving,” Haley continued.

It’s still unclear what the Chiefs are planning to do with the right side of their offensive line on Monday night, but it will no doubt hinge on the health of O’Callaghan. If he can’t play against San Diego, a roster move of some type could come at any time. If he can, it’s conceivable that Richardson is the only reserve tackle on the roster for Monday Night Football.

Regardless of what happens in the coming days, Richardson is sitting in an important role for the Chiefs as they prepare for San Diego.

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