Denver Broncos defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is looking to continue his dominant run-stopping ways in 2017, even if he’s dealing with a lingering foot injury.
Richardson is among the Broncos defensive backs who had the best season of his career in 2016 and was named an All-Pro.
Richardson had 19.5 sacks in 16 games last season and had one sack in his team’s Super Bowl XLIX win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
But he also had 13.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and six pass breakups.
Richardson will turn 36 years old on Sunday, and he has the skills and experience to be a star in the league.
“It’s all about winning,” Richardson said.
“I want to be that guy.
If you win games, that’s all you can do.”
Richardson is a member of the Pro Bowl and is a key member of Denver’s defense.
He’s one of the league’s most productive defensive players and is known for his playmaking ability, especially in the run game.
He was the second-leading tackler in the NFL last season, with 5.5.
Richardson has played in every game since he returned from an ACL injury in 2014.
His career averages of 4.5 and 4.0 sacks are tied for second in the Pro Football Focus rankings.
The Broncos have won six in a row for the first time since 2003 and are 2-1 in their last nine games.
Richardson said he doesn’t expect to have a lot of time to rest after being on the field for more than three weeks last season.
He is in a great position to be back this year, especially after being placed on IR for the third straight season.
Richardson’s versatility and experience make him a good fit for the Broncos.
He is a good run stopper, which makes him a natural fit for Denver’s front four, especially with the Broncos lacking a traditional inside linebacker in DeMarcus Ware.
Denver is coming off a disappointing season with four straight losing seasons.
But the Broncos have the best defense in the NFC West and will be without one of its top pass rushers, Corey Graham, for the entire season after suffering a torn ACL in last season’s playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
That opens up the Broncos for a new look.
Denver has a number of players coming off the books.
Cornerback T.J. Ward, who played for the Browns, Jets and Raiders last season before becoming an unrestricted free agent, will be eligible to become a free agent.
He spent five seasons with Denver and is in the final year of his contract.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who was released by the Colts last year and signed with the Titans this offseason, is also in the running for a roster spot.
Offensive tackle Russell Okung and defensive end Malik Jackson are also free agents.
Richardson also has been one of several key players who could help the Broncos improve in 2017.
If Richardson can play like the Pro Bowler he was in 2016, he could be the difference between the Broncos being a Super Bowl contender and missing out on the postseason.
Richardson was a third-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2005, and the Broncos drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft.
Richardson has not played a regular-season game since 2012 because of a fractured left leg.
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