From Legion of Boom to Cowboys' DBs, Kris Richard brings energy

Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard -- shown talking with safety Jameill Showers, left, and cornerback Duke Thomas, right -- is always on the move on the practice field. Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

OXNARD, Calif. -- After Byron Jones got off the ground after making a leaping interception of Dak Prescott earlier in Dallas Cowboys training camp, he needed just two steps to find Kris Richard.

Before any of Jones’ teammates were able to get to him for a congratulatory hug and high-five, Richard was there with a big chest bump.

For those who don’t know, Richard is the Cowboys’ defensive backs coach and passing-game coordinator.

“He’s fast, man,” Jones said. “I don’t know he covers ground like that, but he’s always a guy, good play, bad play, he’s coming over to coach you up or he’s going to thump you up if you make a good play. It’s nice to have a coach like that.”

Exuberance comes with the territory with Richard. His voice is deep and sometimes raspy from all of the talking and coaching he does on the practice field and in the classroom. He sometimes sounds as if he is standing at the pulpit, delivering a moving sermon. On the field, he is in constant motion.

“Guys respect you when you’re consistent each and every single day,” Richard said. “They love you when they know it’s real. That it’s who you really are. That’s the point. I want to show them how much that we love doing this, and if we say it and if we mean it, then let’s go show it. That’s the bottom line. Each and every single time that we step out there, we are blessed. We can’t forget that. Not everybody has the opportunity to do this, so when you’re out there, let it go. Lay it all out there.”

So far in camp, Richard has laid it out there.

During drills in which he has instructed the defensive backs how to tackle, he has served as the tackling dummy, getting taken to the ground over and over again.

“That’s just my makeup, my personality,” Richard said. “We’re all-in. I would never ask these guys to go out there and do anything I was never willing to do.”

But there is a teaching moment in the drill.

“If you’re not doing it properly on me, then that means I’m not coaching it properly,” he said.

During a one-on-one period, cornerback Jourdan Lewis and receiver Lance Lenoir got into a brief scuffle. As Lenoir called for Lewis to take another rep, Richard screamed, "He doesn’t run our drill." He has gotten into back-and-forth exchanges with the receivers and coaches good naturedly, but also to inspire his players.

“Him being there with us, it shows that he’s got our back,” safety Kavon Frazier said. “So we’re going to go that much harder, fight that much extra just for him just because we see it on the practice field.”

From 2015-17, Richard was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, but he was mostly remembered for fostering what became known as the Legion of Boom with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. His presence on Jason Garrett’s staff has been part of the connectivity to the ceaseless Thomas-to-the-Cowboys discussion.

With the Cowboys, Richard inherits a projected secondary of starters and sub-package players who have a total of 13 interceptions with the Cowboys, led by Jeff Heath’s seven. Sherman had eight interceptions in 2012 and 2013 by himself.

Through eight padded practices, the Cowboys’ secondary has been one of the stories of camp. Jones’ return to cornerback after a two-year run at safety has been smooth. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is much more confident in his second season. Heath and Xavier Woods have appeared unfazed by the Thomas talk. Anthony Brown and Lewis, competing for the slot corner spot created by Orlando Scandrick’s release, look improved, too.

It is as if they want the ball thrown their way.

“You want to make a play,” Awuzie said. “Obviously, if the quarterback doesn’t throw at you at all, that’s a win, too. As a DB, you just want to make any play that comes to you. If they don’t come to you, you want to make sure you had good coverage. I think we’re doing a good job of that. We’re going in the right direction. We’re building up, making more plays on the ball every day.”

In Seattle, Richard oversaw a secondary that grew into one of the best -- if not the best -- in the NFL.

With the Cowboys, he inherits a secondary that is growing into what they hope becomes one of the best.

“The cool part is each and every single year, it doesn’t matter how old the group is, how young the group is, the new season is a brand-new unit,” Richard said. “We never expect anyone to come back the same.

“The bottom line is, ‘How great can we be?’ and, ‘How fast can we get there?’”