Wild, wild Weston could be NFL’s worst-kept secret
It’s hard to keep secrets in the NFL, and even harder to do so in New York. Yet somehow, the New York Giants’ center, Weston Richburg, is a bit of a rare exception.
A second-round selection in the 2014 draft, Richburg has established himself as one of the best interior linemen in the league, a guy who has mostly flown under the radar.
Richburg’s exploits might have become lost in the constant negative press of the Giants’ offensive line, but that’s nothing to blame him for. What he’s brought to the Giants offense is a mixture of toughness, leadership and, when healthy, solid play for a guy who was thought to be by some undersized for his position.
Like several of his offensive linemates, Richburg was hard at work this offseason, in a quest to improve. He’s been a regular attendee at LeCharles Bentley’s O-Line Performance Center. His own improvement as well as those by his projected starting line mates have him very optimistic about the coming season.
“We went to the playoffs and want to go further,” Richburg said. “We’re excited about the guys we have in this room and excited to get that going.”
If that offensive line can find weekly consistency, there’s no reason it can’t go further.
How has Richburg stayed so under the radar?
The Giants struggles on the offensive line, particularly the exterior, perhaps overshadow the good Richburg has accomplished thus far, in addition to the fact he plays in the same division as the Cowboys center Travis Frederick, a higher profile first-round pick.
Per Pro Football Focus’ signature stats, Richburg was tied for third (with two others) last year for best pass-blocking efficiency (98.6), the center tagged for allowing just 11 total pressures (sacks, hits and hurries) out of 611 passing snaps.
Richburg’s own humility, however, likely plays a part in keeping him under the radar.
When a reporter praised Richburg during the OTAs for having had a good season, Richburg briskly he replied that didn’t, remarking that after watching film from last season that, “You find a lot of things that you want to get better at. That’s the only good thing about watching those. You get a list of things you need to improve on.”
While the Giants strive to see all their players get better, something tells us that they’ll happily stick with Richburg for as long as they can, warts or not.
How is Richburg feeling after revealing he played the entire 2016 season injured?
This spring, Richburg’s great–or bad, by his standards–season came while he worked through a painful hand injury that included torn tendons in his snapping hand.
“That hurts you; your hand placement, your ability to grab, ability to work the chest plate is a big part of the game,” Moffensive line coach Mike Solari said.
“So that was tough for him, and he worked through it and he performed at the highest level that he could without being able to use that hand at full strength. But it would be a big difference this year.”
The good news is Richburg is over the injury, first suffered in a preseason game last summer. “I’m full go,” he declared. “(I’m) ready to get after it, excited for what’s in store.”
With an ejection in the first game against Washington game being the lone blemish on his season–Richburg became the first player ejected under the NFL’s new unsportsmanlike conduct rules for multiple infractions–he still managed to have a great year despite doing his best to hide a hand injury.
Now back at full health and facing a contract year that could move him to toward the top of the league’s highest paid centers, the sky’s the limit for Richburg, who could also be eyeing his first Pro Bowl this season.