FOXBORO -- If Patriots rookie safety Jordan Richards has felt at all lost since joining the team this spring, he hasn't shown it.
The second-round pick out of Stanford missed parts of the Patriots preseason program because, per NFL rules, he had to finish up at Paolo Alto before reporting to Gillette Stadium. But since his arrival, Richards has done nothing but impress.
"He’s really smart," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick following the team's second day of mandatory minicamp. "We gave him some information to work on while he was away. He’s obviously studied it and worked hard at it. For a guy who wasn’t here, he had a pretty good idea of what we were doing."
Richards -- who was named a Pac-12 All-Academic three times, served as an undergraduate peer advisor, and graduated with a degree in public policy -- explained last week that he did his best to keep up with everything going on in Foxboro while he was on the West Coast fulfilling his academic requirements.
"It’s just time management skills," he said. "It wasn’t impossible. Obviously it’s tough to be a full-time football player when you’re not, when you’re 3,000 miles away, but that’s why I tried to do as much as I could, electronically, looking at the playbook, writing down questions."
Not only was Richards focused on studying the material the Patriots had passed along, he was also set on being in the kind of physical shape that the team expected so he adhered to Patriots workouts even though strength coach Harold Nash wasn't there to keep tabs on him.
"I’d get my workouts in that coach Nash and the strength and conditioning coaches gave me, and I’d get my lift, my run in, then go to class," Richards said. "In the evenings, I’d study the playbook."
During OTAs and minicamp, Richards joined a safety group that includes veterans Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Nate Ebner, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson and undrafted rookie Brandon King. He's appeared to get work at both safety spots and on special teams as well.
Given Richards' delayed start, the fact that he's been able to join the team and have an idea of what's going on speaks to his football IQ, but it's also an indicatory of the work he put in between the time he was drafted and the time he was allowed to officially begin his life as a professional football player.
"He kept up on the installation, and he’s done a good job out on the field," Belichick said. "He’s smart, he communicates well. He had a lot of playing experience in college, of course, but that seems to be transferring pretty quickly out here."