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Burning Questions

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12 questions for Sheldon Richardson, who has waited years for a game like Sunday's

The veteran DT is eyeing his 1st trip to the playoffs

Sheldon Richardson is looking for redemption when he hits the field Sunday.

Richardson, in his third season with the Jets, was on the doorsteps of the playoffs when he faced the Bills in the 2015 regular season finale. All the Jets needed was a win to move to 11-5 and clinch a spot. Instead, in a sloppy performance on both sides of the ball, the Jets fell, 22-17, and were the odd team out of the postseason.

Richardson remembers how that felt. He wants to feel the opposite Sunday, when the Browns have the opportunity to clinch their first trip to the postseason since 2002. caught up with Richardson as he eyed the upcoming matchup with the Steelers. There were a lot of curveballs thrown at the team this week. How have you and the rest of the guys handled it?

Richardson: We've been having a series of unfortunate events this week, but guys have still been showing up in meetings and have been attentive. We had practice (Friday) so guys got it in and did a little bit. There wasn't as many mistakes as I thought there'd be as far as the install goes. Guys are just moving forward. Whatever punches are thrown our way, we're just taking them. The defense has been hit particularly hard this week. How much trust do you have in the guys who have to step up?

Richardson: I have tremendous faith in them. I trust them to the fullest to come in and do their job and work their technique and execute the game plan to the best of their abilities. They need to make the plays they need to make in front of them and don't make the game what it isn't. It's still football. There's pressure on them a little bit but it's still football. You've played in the NFL for a long time and played in some big games. Where does this one rank?

Richardson: Uno. Why's that?

Richardson: I was in this position before. It didn't pan out how I wanted it to with the Jets a few years back. Just pushing forward, I'm trying to make my first playoff run. Why not do it in Cleveland? What did you learn from that experience?

Richardson: I made a few mistakes in there as far as the game plan. I missed a few plays and just really overthought stuff, tried to do too much and got outside of the game plan. I just made the moment bigger than it was. I tried to make every play as my play to make. You've got to still do your job as far as the system goes. How does Kevin Stefanski's even-keeled demeanor help you guys avoid making the game bigger than it is?

Richardson: He puts us in the right situations we believe that will come to us in the game. Honestly, his attitude is what we need. His mindset is what the team needs. He toes the line between strict and lenient and the way he adjusts for us this year has been amazing. What can you pull from last year's game, when the D-line dominated and gave Mason Rudolph some problems?

Richardson: I think the team has been putting up that type of effort week in and week out. Obviously we need to make sure that effort is turning into production and not just effort and not going out and getting this W. How does it affect your preparation when you don't know who's going to play for the other team?

Richardson: We just need to make sure everybody knows the game plan and everybody's on the same page. You have to adjust to the game speed as you need to. Myles Garrett is going to be Sunday's captain. What have you seen from him this season and how he's grown as a leader?

Richardson: His consistency. How dominant his consistency is as far as his stat numbers go. Some of the plays he makes are second to none. He's made tremendous strides from last year to this year. He missed a few games again this year due to the COVID thing but he bounced back from that and got back to it. You got your hands on the ball twice last week blocking kicks. Is that a point of pride for your resume?

Richardson: Whatever we needed to win, I'll do it. It seemed to affect the game and kept points off the board. It's always a plus. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said you've come close about 30 times over the last three years.

Richardson: Yeah, I felt that a few times. Priefer and I have been together for three years now since I was in Minnesota. I had a few there and I actually tipped one in Minnesota that still went in. It's just how I play the game. It's just who I am. You've been in Cleveland for a couple of years and gotten to know the fans. What will a win Sunday mean for them?

Richardson: I feel the energy through the podcasts and throughout the city. I know it will be tremendous for them. I'm sorry the fans can't enjoy this season how they want to. They finally get a team to root for and hang their hat on a little bit and they can't enjoy the games like I know they would. Last year, we didn't win the way we were supposed to but they showed so much love and were so consistent. You can't beat that.

Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers

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