He has been one of the most consistent offensive players since Mike Zimmer took over as the team’s head coach in 2014, but his reps have seemed to decrease this offseason. He was working with the second-team offense during training camp, before he got hurt, while Adam Thielen was the No. 3 wide receiver in the first-team offense.
That is the spot that Wright has held the past couple of seasons, but he was usually limited to the role of slot receiver because of his 5-foot-10, 191-pound frame. Thielen, who’s 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, offers the offense a little more flexibility because he can lineup both on the outside and in the slot.
Zimmer said not to read too much into the early rotation in training camp, but it may be reaching a point where it makes sense to make some judgments. Thielen has been working with the first-team offense all offseason and has been making plays in games when he gets the opportunity, while Wright has been working with the second- and sometimes third-team offense, even when he is healthy.
But Wright isn’t worried. He knows he has consistently shown what he is capable of doing and believes he will get his chances.
“I know what type of player I am and I know I can make plays in this league,” he said.
“I’m just going to remain to be the same guy I’ve always been and anytime I have a chance I’m going to make a play.”
Wright was forced to miss the Vikings’ first two preseason games because of an injury, but he was finally able to return for their third game, which was their first home game at their new stadium. He was only on the field for 16 offensive snaps, all of which came with the backups.
He still did his best to take advantage of the opportunity, though, recording one catch for 26 yards.
“It was good just to get a chance just to get out there and get into the groove,” he said. “Just get out there with my teammates and play a little real football.
“Run some routes against somebody else besides your teammates, and get a catch too.”
Wright appeared to be a full participant all of last week during practice, so his limited snaps likely aren’t due to the coaches trying to ease him back into the lineup. What’s more likely is that the coaches already know what they have in Wright and want to be able to get a look at some of their other receivers.
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Laquon Treadwell, Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Thielen all received more playing time than Wright did during Sunday’s game. And Wright was the only receiver in that grouping that did not receive any playing time with the first-team offense.
Diggs and Johnson are expected to be the two starters at this point, so it makes sense that they would get plenty of snaps with the first-team offense. It also makes sense for Treadwell, Patterson and Thielen because they are still young, somewhat unproven players and the coaching staff could just be trying to see what they have in them.
Wright is currently in a difficult place, having to play behind all of them, despite the success he has had in the NFL. The coaches also haven’t discussed what they envision his role being this season, so all he can do is work hard and just keep playing his game.
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It’s possible that things go back to the way they were once the regular season starts and the games start to matter. We will start to see if that’s the case or not as the Vikings next Monday will begin preparing for their first regular season game on Sept. 11.
However, if the preseason is an indication of things to come, Wright shouldn’t get his hopes up about being the regular No. 3 receiver in the offense this season.