The analogy on Jarius Wright when the Vikings drafted the receiver in the fourth round last year was that he's a "poor man's Percy Harvin."
Wright heard the comparison often last and tried to temper it. This year, with the Minnesota Vikings trading away Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks, Wright could see a bigger role, or at least a more consistent one, but he continues to give Harvin his due.
"I will start by saying that there's really no replacing Percy Harvin, but at the same time I do feel that I can step in and take some of the bubble screens and some of them reverse handoffs out of the backfield," Wright said.
At the midpoint of last season, Harvin was being touted as a potential NFL MVP candidate. Through eight games, Harvin had 60 catches for 667 yards and was one of the best kickoff returners in the game, as well as offering a few rushes every game. His ninth game would be his last because an ankle injury ended his season.
The ninth game would also be the last one on the inactive list for then-rookie Wright.
After spending the first half of his rookie season learning, Wright got his chance and a shot of confidence.
"It gave me a lot of confidence. Each and every week, even when I wasn't out there, each and every week on the practice squad going against our defense gave me confidence. Each week I got to play just gave me that much more confidence," he said.
"Knowing what's expected of me, knowing where I'm going to play and knowing the different positions I'm going to play, it makes it a lot easier for me to learn those positions (this year)."
Wright finished with 22 catches for 310 yards and two touchdowns over the final seven games of the 2012 season, including a 54-yard catch in his first game as Harvin's replacement.
Harvin has more explosiveness than Wright and is a more natural runner out of the backfield, so the offense is expected to change somewhat without him.
"I don't know if we'll run as many specialty plays. We have a great guy in Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson. We'll have him starting in the beginning of the year," Wright said. "Me, other receivers like Stephen Burton, we have a lot of guys to get the ball to, and that's including great tight ends and a great running back."
Wright is considered mainly a slot receiver, a position that Jennings and even rookie Cordarrelle Patterson can play, but Wright's role is expected to be more consistent this year. His days on the inactive list could be gone and the expectations have ramped up.
But he is making no assumptions. He learned a work ethic in his rookie season that he isn't about to change now.
"Just hard work each and every day," he said when asked the biggest thing he learned as a rookie. "As long as you come in and put in hard work each and every day and try to get better each and every day, it will definitely show off on the field."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
WR Wright: ‘Really no replacing Percy'
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