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Tim Wright Settles In

Posted Nov 4, 2013

Buccaneer rookie TE Tim Wright already feels like he's left his undrafted status behind as he becomes more and more involved in Tampa Bay's offense while still learning a new position

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rookie TE Tim Wright has at least two catches in five straight games and has scored in each of the last two outings
  • An undrafted free agent in April, Wright believes he's advanced beyond that label due to his attention to detail
  • Wright converted from wide receiver and is doing well enough in the blocking aspects of the position to stay on the field
These days, when Tim Wright accomplishes something on the football field, it is commonly put into the context of two categories, one of which he only recently joined and one of which he no longer feels a part of.

Take Wright's two touchdowns, one each in the last two games.  That's the beginning of a nice little run for Wright, but it takes on a little more significance when you consider that Wright is a) a Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end and, b) a former undrafted rookie free agent.

See, the Buccaneers were getting virtually nothing from the tight end position this season (four catches for 44 yards and no scores through three weeks) until Wright began his surprising emergence in Week Four against Arizona.  And certainly the Buccaneers have rarely seen this kind of out-of-the-box production from an undrafted rookie pass-catcher of any kind.  Wright is just the third undrafted player in team history, in fact, to have at least two touchdown catches in his rookie season.

Go a step further and factor in that, until mid-June, Wright was by trade a wide receiver, the position he played throughout his college career at Rutgers.  That makes his production – 24 catches for 259 yards and two TDs – all the more impressive, and would seem to suggest a very high ceiling for the Bucs' latest conversion project.

“I don’t have the position down at all," he said on Monday with a wide smile, a day after catching four passes for 58 yards and a score in the Bucs' overtime loss in Seattle.  "Every day, I go out there and work and try to get better, try to perfect my craft. There’s some similarities that go into it as [far] as being a catching tight end and being a receiver, but I feel like, when you’re down there, inside the lines, you’ve got to bow up. You’ve got to have a lot of heart. There’s a lot of technique that goes into it, but I feel like I’m learning, I feel like I’m progressing and I’m getting better at it.”

-- TE Tim Wright (81) alertly broke off his route to catch a 12-yard TD pass from QB M. Glennon in Seattle
What Wright does not feel like any more, the category he no longer identifies with even if it will remain his NFL origin forever, is that of the undrafted rookie just trying to catch on.

"I prepare like a professional; I don’t prepare like I’m an undrafted free agent rookie," he said.  "I look at myself as a starter, and I just want to continue to do that and produce for my team.

“I just look at it as I’m a professional now.  I go out there and I prepare like a professional. If things are coming to me, I feel like it’s an opportunity, and I just try to take full advantage of it. Coming in as an undrafted free agent, you had the odds stacked against you, but I feel like, as long as you work hard and keep faith, you take coaching and you carry yourself as a professional – you go out there and do your job – good things will come.”

Indeed they have so far for Wright, who has at least two catches in each of the last five games and is seeing ever-increasing snap totals as he proves he can handle the other aspects of being an NFL tight end.  Obviously it was Wright's size (6-4, 220) that made the Buccaneers' coaching staff believe they could convert him to a more rugged position on offense, but there are plenty of tight ends of that size on the fringes of the NFL, trying to make it.  The key is putting the whole package together, being at least reliable in all aspects of the position so that you're biggest strengths have a chance to emerge.  On Monday, Head Coach Greg Schiano praised Wright for his efforts this season, and it had nothing to do with the valuable numbers he has been contributing to the offense.  Rather, Schiano said that Wright has been doing a good job of executing his assignments for the last four games in a row.

Of course, Wright came to Tampa with some knowledge of what Schiano would be expecting of him, having played for the Bucs' coach during four of his five seasons at Rutgers (including a red-shirt year).

“I feel like it’s the details," said Wright.  "Coach Schiano is a very detailed coach. That’s why, when I was coming in as a freshman, it was definitely a big step for me, when I was at Rutgers. All the details that he coached, it was something new to me, and I had to adjust to it, and I think that, over the five years that I was there, four years being with him, I grew to realize how important the details are in a football game. It’s a one-in-11 game – you’ve got to be responsible for your own job and then the 10 other guys on the field at that time have to be responsible for their job – and when 11 people collectively work together and execute their job, good things will happen."

When 11 people collectively work together and execute their job, good things will happen.
-- TE Tim Wright
Wright is also fortunate that he's been able to form a good connection with one of those other 10 men, the one who's always on the field with the offense and the one who decides where the football is going.  Wright got plenty of extra time on the practice field with rookie quarterback Mike Glennon throughout the spring and summer, back when it wasn't known that Glennon would end up starting for the majority of the season.  The feel those two have together was evident in the first touchdown of Sunday's game, when Glennon scrambled left to buy time and saw Wright in the end zone, closely covered but cutting along the back of the end zone.  Glennon threw the ball to a spot near the goal posts, purposely not leading Wright, and the tight end realized what was happening.  When Wright stopped suddenly, the defender kept going and it turned into a relatively easy catch for the Buccaneer rookie.

“I feel like we do have a little connection that goes unseen, that goes between the lines, that we worked on in the offseason and different things like that, talking over it in the meeting rooms and different things of that nature," said Wright of his relationship with his quarterback.  "We have a great connection working together, and it’s coming along for us.”
Game Rewind: Tampa Bay Buccaneers