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NFL hitting defensive players like Eric Kendricks, Sheldon Richardson in their pockets

September 17, 2018

Sheldon Richardson welcomed both friend and foe to the growing list of NFL defensive players who have or will be fined thousands of dollars by the NFL for hits they believe were legal and good faith attempts to obey the league’s efforts to protect quarterbacks.

The Vikings defensive tackle was asked about the two questionable roughing-the-passer penalties in Sunday’s 29-29 tie at Green Bay. The first was on Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks. The second was on Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

Richardson, who was fined $20,054 for a similar hit in Week 1, sympathized with both of his defensive brethren.

“I know the feeling,” he said. “I told [Kendricks] to shake it off. Just be expecting [a fine letter] on Thursday.”

Asked if that was a tough check to write, Richardson said, “It’s payroll deduct. I don’t even see it leave my bank account. It’s the truth. They cut out writing the check.

“What can I say,” he added. “Every year, they make a rule change, and it’s always something the defense got to do. The fine system itself is for the defensive players, I believe.”

Coach Mike Zimmer said he thinks the roughing calls are playing a role in scoring being “way up” this year.

“Apparently, that’s what they want,” he said. “It’s an offensive league.”

Vikings add a sixth receiver

In signing 29-year-old Aldrick Robinson, the Vikings reached back into Kirk Cousins’ past to bolster a receiving corps shaken by Laquon Treadwell’s costly drops on Sunday.

Robinson and Cousins were together in Washington from 2012 to 2014. Cousins made nine starts in those three seasons, while Robinson started three times while posting a 20.3-yard average with five touchdowns on 30 catches with the Redskins.

“Cousins really liked him,” Zimmer said. “He’s a fast guy. Makes some deep-ball plays. And Kirk throws a great deep ball, as you saw the other day.”

This is Robinson’s fifth team in seven seasons. He played for the 49ers last season, catching 19 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games with one start.

16 ½-point favorites?!

The Vikings opened this week as a 16 ½-point favorite over the visiting Bills, who are 0-2 and starting a rookie quarterback in Josh Allen.

“That’s an NFL team, bro,” Richardson said when asked about the point spread. “We prepare for them as if they’re 2-0. Just what it is. We’re not taking them lightly.”

According to the Buffalo News, the Bills have been an underdog of 16 or more points only four times since 1980. They’re 0-4 against the spread and have been outscored 160-24 in those games.

The Bills were 18-point underdogs at Miami in 1985. They lost 28-0.

The paper also researched the league’s largest point spreads since 1980. No. 1 was Denver as a 26 ½-point favorite against Jacksonville in 2013.

Not-so-special teams

Monday’s release of rookie kicker Daniel Carlson doesn’t cure all that currently ails the Vikings’ special teams.

“We’re going to have to clean it up,” Zimmer said. “I’ve talked to the team about some things that I’ll keep within ourselves.

“But we’ve got to do a better job there. We can’t get a punt blocked. We did have some good returns in the game. We should have fair caught a couple punts that we didn’t. We lost about 10 yards on each one. So we’ve got to do a better job there.”

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