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

Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland - LP: R. Cook 3 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: F. Salas 4
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
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 Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
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: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close