A year ago at this time, Jarius Wright was healed up from a preseason ankle injury and was ready to get on the field and show Vikings fans what he could do. All he was doing was waiting for his opportunity.
It wasn't until an ankle injury to Percy Harvin that Wright got the opportunity he was waiting for. A year later, he is looking to make a difference in the Vikings offense sooner than later. While he is a part-time player who has just one reception in two games, Wright is ready to become another playmaker in the Vikings receiver corps.
"Any player wants to be a starter and be on the field every play," Wright said. "If you're satisfied being a part-time guy, you got no business in the NFL. Why would you play the game if you don't want to start? But, at the same time, I'm very satisfied with my role. I'm in there on three-receiver sets and I'm in some plays when we have two receivers. They expect me to make plays when I'm in there, whether it's catching the ball or blocking. If it's a pass, I'm running my route as best as I can to get open. If it's a run play, I'm blocking hard. I think the coaches notice that."
When the Vikings drafted Wright, the comparisons to Harvin began. They only grew when Wright replaced Harvin at midseason and essentially took over his spot in the offense. But Wright doesn't believe the comparisons are valid. They're two different types of players with different strengths and different weaknesses, making such a comparison unfair to both of them.
"We aren't two completely different players, but we bring two different skill sets to the table," Wright said. "Percy was good with the ball in his hands and there were a lot of plays designed to get him the ball quickly. That's not saying he couldn't run good routes, because we all knew he could. But we used Percy more of a guy who got the ball quick and let him do his thing in the open field. I've been used more of a down-the-field guy and someone who has to run a good route to get open and stretch the defense more down the field."
Wright is still waiting for his chance in 2013. While he has been on the field a little less than 50 percent of the time, he has been targeted with just four passes, catching one. Bill Musgrave and Christian Ponder haven't dialed up his number too often, but Wright is gaining the same kind of confidence he built the first nine weeks of his rookie season when he was practicing with the team but inactive on Sundays.
It's all about getting the chance and he once again finds himself waiting in the wings despite being in the spotlight.
Last year, it was frustrating for Wright to not be a part of the team on game days. He isn't feeling that same sense of frustration this time around. Instead, he's using his time to work on improving his game.
"I've seen a big improvement from last year, especially in my route-running," Wright said. "My focus and concentration on the ball is getting better, too. They talk about the game slowing down as you get more experience. I'm seeing that. I'm a lot more confident and I think my teammates have more confidence in me that I can get my job done."
Wright understands the pecking order of the offense. It starts with Adrian Peterson and then goes through Kyle Rudolph, Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson. A year ago, the script was flipped. It could be argued that, in the first month of the 2012 season, the offense went through Harvin first and A.D. second. There were a lot of plays specifically designed to get the ball in Harvin's hands. To date, those plays have been all but eliminated from the 2013 playbook, but that's fine with Wright. He wants to earn his way with his talent and skill, not being a poor-man's clone trying to be the reincarnation of Harvin in purple.
"I'm not Percy and Percy isn't me," Wright said. "He's a great player who did a lot for the Vikings in his time here. I'm looking to fill a role in this offense, but not the same role Percy had. I'm motivated to make a big impact, but I'm going to do it in my style. It's not the same as what Percy did, but I believe I can bring a lot to this offense and be a downfield player who can make big plays that will help our offense succeed."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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