Please excuse Jarius Wright if he has to momentarily delay a post-practice conversation to receive additional instruction on a specific play from receivers coach George Stewart.
It's been that kind of week for Wright. The Vikings' rookie fourth-round receiver is as close as ever to getting his first NFL action and wants to be sure he makes the most of it.
With the NFL's leading receiver, Percy Harvin, on crutches Monday and absent from practice on Wednesday, Wright is in line to make his NFL debut two months after he initially hoped it would happen.
"It's just been real difficult with me because I like to play. I like to get out there and I like to compete," Wright said. "I like to have a chance to help the team out."
For nine straight games, Wright has seen his name on the game-day inactive list – the only draft pick to make the 53-man roster who hasn't gotten an opportunity to play yet.
He has had an opportunity to educate family and close friends on the inactive procedures in the NFL, but he still gets questions from friends and fans on Twitter about why he hasn't played. He simply explains that it isn't his choice.
The biggest reason for his inactive status has been the similarities in his game and what Harvin offers. Wisely, Wright offers a caveat when asked about comparisons between him and the league's leading receiver with 62 catches.
"There's not too many people that can get in there and fill Percy's role. You just try to fill in the speed part," Wright said. "He's bigger, as far as muscles, but our body styles are pretty much the same. As far as body style and speed and things like that, that's what I try to get out of that."
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he is still holding out hope that Harvin can play Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but Harvin was on crutches Monday and said his left ankle was sprained in three different places. By Thursday, he was off the crutches but limping badly.
Offensive coordinator said Wright appears to be ready for game action but admitted the play-calling would be affected if Harvin can't play.
"It would be a little bit different because Jarius doesn't have the same experience that Percy does," Musgrave said. "Both of them are talented players, though. We should be fine."
While Harvin has been getting treatment on the ankle, Wright said there hasn't been any advice offered from the veteran lately. That type of instruction has been garnered over the past five months, ever since Harvin showed up for conditioning exercises while rehabilitating a surgically repaired shoulder this summer.
"He helped me out. He taught me the rights and the wrongs. He helped me with my releases and told me what I can do better and what I can't do better. As far as him telling me something now, he's been doing that already," Wright said.
"The biggest thing is just use my speed. He said, ‘You're a fast, small guy, so you try to use your speed to the best of your ability.'"
Wright used that speed at Arkansas to shape himself into a fourth-round draft pick. His receptions increased all four years as a Razorback, starting with 19 his freshman season, into the 40s his sophomore and junior years, and then 66 catches for 1,117 yards as a senior. He finished his career with 168 receptions for 2,934 yards and 24 touchdowns.
On Wednesday, it was clear Wright was assuming Harvin's role in practice.
"They are very similar in a lot of ways. The way we would use him is similar to the way we use Percy if he ends up playing on Sunday," Frazier said.
Wright's similar skill set to Harvin's is one of the reasons he is among three Vikings who haven't been active yet. The Vikings have used Harvin in a variety of roles, but this is as close as he has come to missing a game for anything other than migraines (the cause of him missing three games in his first two NFL seasons).
"With Percy being up and playing at the level he was, we didn't need nobody else at the position at the time. Now that Percy's down, it's just a chance for the other receivers to step up," Wright said.
Wright said he didn't enter the season thinking he would be stuck behind Harvin and therefore inactive for the first nine games. Instead, he figured he could prove himself to the point of being on the field at the same time as Harvin.
That didn't happen. But Wright is hoping this is the opening he needs to finally make an impact on Sunday.
"Me personally, I feel like it's an opportunity to crack the door. I've been patiently waiting," Wright said. "If they feel like I'm ready, then I feel like I'm ready also."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Wright ready, discusses Harvin comparisons
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