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For Vikings’ Richardson, sacks are money in the bank

EAGAN, Minn. -- Sacks aren't always the best measure of a defensive lineman's pressure on a quarterback, but don't tell that to Sheldon Richardson. The three-technique defensive tackle signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Vikings in Ma...

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Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (93) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 25. Dan Powers via USA TODAY NETWORK

EAGAN, Minn. - Sacks aren’t always the best measure of a defensive lineman’s pressure on a quarterback, but don’t tell that to Sheldon Richardson.

The three-technique defensive tackle signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Vikings in March to give opposing signal callers fits. Entering the game against Green Bay on Sunday, Nov. 25, Richardson led the Vikings in quarterback hurries but had just three shared sacks for a total of 1K.

That changed in the 24-17 victory over the Packers, when Richardson had two solo sacks of Aaron Rodgers to bring his season total to 3 1/2.

“I was blessed and I was humbled by it,” Richardson said Monday. “It was just a great feeling to finally get some stats toward what I need to further along my career.”

The more sacks Richardson gets, the more he gets paid. He has clauses in his contract that pay an extra $667,000 if he reaches six sacks for the season, $1.3 million if he has eight and $2 million if he reaches 10.

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So, yeah, he’s got sacks on his mind.

Richardson had a career-high eight sacks in 2014 with the New York Jets. Over the past two years, though, he had just 1 1/2 for the Jets in 2016 and one with Seattle in 2017.

On Sunday, Richardson also was big against the run, tying linebacker Eric Kendricks for the team lead with seven tackles. He had two quarterback hurries, bringing his season total to a team-high 43.

“I get multiple pressures every game, game in, game out,” Richardson said.

Zimmer said after Sunday’s game the Vikings didn’t blitz Rodgers much because it wasn’t necessary, and that was good news to Richardson.

“That’s how we want it, too,” he said. “When linebackers get sacks, we ain’t mad or anything, but when they get it, we say, ‘Man, that could have been us.’ “

Zimmer said Richardson has ‘done well” pressuring the quarterback. Defensive line coach Andre Patterson has worked plenty with him on technique.

Richardson said Patterson has helped him “finish” better and to “get me over the hump a lot.”

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“I wish there were more sack total numbers, but you’ve just got to grind through it,” Richardson said.

After sacking Rodgers twice, next up for Richardson is another future hall of fame quarterback: Tom Brady on Sunday at New England.

When Richardson was with the Jets from 2013-16, they went 2-6 against the Patriots, Richardson had 1 1/2 sacks against Brady in those games.

“You never know what trick plays they’re going to do,” Richardson said of playing the Patriots. “Knowing them, they always got a loophole in the rule book or something, a different scheme, something you’ve never seen before. … They find ways to put points on the board and make sure Tom Brady can win the game for them.”

On visits to Gillette Stadium, the Jets went 0-4 with Richardson on the team. He’s hoping this trip will be different.

“I love playing there, honestly,” he said. “It’s a hostile situation, but I feel comfortable there. We might not have won every time we’ve played there, but there’s always time for a change.”

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