Wiederer: It's Jarius Wright's time to play

  • Updated: December 1, 2012 - 6:11 PM

The rookie wide receiver from Arkansas wants to show that he's "always been a playmaker."

hide

Jarius Wright

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Yes, there's an intense stretch coming for the Vikings, one that includes this afternoon's treacherous trip to Lambeau Field. Vegas pegs the Packers as 8 1/2-point favorites. Which means, odds are, the Vikings' NFC North title hopes may be all but disintegrated by sundown.

But Jarius Wright is just young enough and eager enough to think he can make a big December difference.

"I don't want to sound cocky or like I'm bragging on myself," the rookie receiver said. "But throughout my life, I've always been a playmaker. And I think I can bring that to this offense down the stretch. Taking the short pass and turning it into a long gain or making that deep catch down the field. I know my abilities can help."

That's the thing about Wright. He has an easygoing swagger. Now is his big opportunity to deliver.

With Percy Harvin out for his third consecutive game, Wright will again be in the mix. And not just in the mix, but likely a prominent part of the passing attack.

Sure, it may be asking a lot to expect a rookie in his third game to make a big splash in a division showdown at Lambeau Field. But Wright's confidence has been steadily escalating since his Nov. 11 debut against Detroit.

It didn't hurt that his first two receptions were a 54-yarder and a 3-yard TD grab.

Suddenly, Wright's belief that he could flourish in the NFL had supporting evidence.

With that, his preparation became more intense.

"Not that I wasn't focused when I wasn't playing," Wright said. "But now I'm watching way more film and studying my opponent way more to find my advantages."

In three weeks' time, Wright's route running has improved. He also has been more engaged.

"You can see it in practice," coach Leslie Frazier said. "We're relying on him a little bit more in some of the things we're doing. We're actually putting in some plays directly for him because of the confidence he's shown and the confidence we've developed in him."

Wright's sizzle is something the Vikings have always admired. After all, general manager Rick Spielman was at Cowboys Stadium in 2011 when Wright delivered the biggest game of his Arkansas career, against Texas A&M. Thirteen catches, 281 yards, two TDs.

And in the preseason finale in August, Wright torched the Texans for 122 yards on six catches, including a 58-yard touchdown on a deep ball up the left sideline.

But then came the waiting game. Seventy-three days passed before the rookie saw action again.

"In your head, you know, 'I can do this. I can play in the NFL,' " Wright said. "At the same time, when you go that long on the side and you haven't played since preseason, occasionally it's, 'Can I really play? Am I really supposed to be here?'

"You have to block those thoughts away."

It's like that antsiness that comes when you're still sitting in the doctor's waiting room 45 minutes after your scheduled appointment. Now draw that out over 10 weeks, with friends and family and, yes, legions of random Twitter followers peppering you with questions of what's taking so long.

"A new Tweet every day," Wright said. "And the most came on Sundays when I wasn't active. People needed to know: 'Why aren't they playing you?' 'Why aren't you in the lineup?' Well, it's not up to me."

The coaches explained their stance, believing Wright functioned in a role too similar to Harvin to climb over the dynamic playmaker on the depth chart. The Vikings also wanted Wright to be crisper with his route running, more reliable with his hands and dependable as a blocker.

Wright accepted the decision but struggled initially to translate it for his parents, who had seen him as a standout his whole life. "To them, I've always been a starter," Wright said. "So they were more frustrated than me."

And yet, the rookie said, his parents' faith played a big part in keeping him patient. "They kept me positive and kept telling me, 'Be ready when you get your chance. It's gonna come."

It's here now.

Dan Wiederer • dan.wiederer@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: C. Frias 2 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 16
San Francisco - WP: S. Romo 4 FINAL
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 2
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 9
Toronto - LP: J. Happ 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 6
Washington - LP: R. Detwiler 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 3
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 4 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 3
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 2
Cincinnati - LP: D. Corcino 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 3
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Sale 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 0
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: K. Gibson 8
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 0 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 2
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: C. Wilson 5
Texas - WP: R. Ross Jr. 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Doolittle 1
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 5 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 2
Tampa Bay 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you support Wednesday's decision to sideline Adrian Peterson again?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close