ALAMEDA, Calif. -- It was after the Oakland Raiders’ loss at the Buffalo Bills in Week 8 when running back and punt returner Jalen Richard took to social media and referred to himself and his game as "poo butt."
Yes, it sounds as bad as it was.
Then would Richard, an absolute fan favorite who came out of nowhere as an undrafted rookie in 2016, resurrect his tweet to describe his performance Sunday in the Raiders’ defeat of the New York Giants, a game in which he put the football on the ground three times?
Richard said he has been off social media for a few weeks now, so there would be no repeat -- or even a retweet. Rather, he spoke directly in the locker room after muffing two punts and fumbling another.
“We got the win; I ain’t really worried about it, the punt situation,” Richard said. “I mean, I ain’t lost no talent. That ain’t the issue. Just had a hard day at work ... that’s it.”
Richard is averaging 5.6 yards on his 24 punt returns, with nine fair catches and a long return of 19 yards. He is the only player to return a punt for Oakland this season.
And as Richard said, with a huge AFC West matchup at the Kansas City Chiefs coming up on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS), the Raiders will need him to be back on his game after rushing for just 4 yards on one carry against the Giants and catching one pass, on three targets, for 5 yards.
“I hope it’s one of those that comes and goes and we don’t see again,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said of Richard’s case of the yips. “He’s been really reliable for us, an excellent player for us. We count on him to do a lot of different things. Securing the ball is really important, and I thought he was loose with it [against the Giants].”
Marshawn Lynch approached his young charge on the sideline and told him to forget it, though with much more colorful language. “You’re still a baller,” Lynch told Richard. “You’re still that dude. Don’t even stress on it.”
Lynch had also been teaching Richard about using his “internal clock” when running the ball, a strategy normally associated with quarterbacks. “So, like when we run our stretch plays and outside zones, he put me on to the internal clock where it is really about three-and-a-half seconds,” Richard said. “If everybody is not shifted over then, you know it’s front side. Three-and-a-half seconds, if everybody is shifted over, that is when you want to cut it up and get vertical.
“That’s something new I never kind of thought about. ... It could have maybe been natural, but to now actually have the thought in my head is different.”
As was facing a left-footed punter in the Giants’ Brad Wing. Maybe the ball coming off the Australian punter’s other foot had something to do with Richard’s issues?
“He miss-hits a lot of balls,” Richard said, “so his balls don’t come off crisp. And with the wind today, I just had a bad problem catching it. That’s all it was. I mean, it was curving on me real good today. It was curving on me real good.”
Plus, Richard acknowledged he was not looking the ball all the way in. “I get comfortable sometimes,” he said. “I am really confident in my hands. I can catch the ball, I can catch punts. It’s one of the hardest things, other than quarterback, I think. Anybody can tell you that catching punts is hard.
“Sometimes you just get a little too comfortable with your hands. Just lock in a little bit more and be good. I’ll be back next week doing the same thing.”
He meant being reliable, not putting the ball on the Arrowhead Stadium grass. But keep this in mind: Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt also punts with his left foot.