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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rookie Wright always willing to mix it up

Published:   |   Updated: October 20, 2013 at 11:18 AM

ATLANTA — Generally speaking, there are two types of receivers — those who like to work outside the numbers where they are relatively safe from harm and those who like to mix it up between the numbers, where they are always in harm’s way.

Buccaneers rookie Tim Wright has always been the latter type.

In fact, he so embraced the physical aspect of the position while playing at Rutgers that his first Scarlet Knights coach once thought of playing him on defense.

“There were times early in his career when I thought he would make a good (strongside) linebacker because he would hit you,’’ said Bucs coach Greg Schiano, who coached Wright during his first three years at Rutgers.

Schiano never did act on that idea, but not long after he got him into a Bucs uniform last spring, Schiano acted on the idea he had of moving Wright to tight end.

Already, it is looking like a rather deft maneuver.

For a Bucs team ravaged by injuries at tight end, Wright has stepped in and provided a viable pass-catching option capable of taking some pressure off wideouts Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.

Since taking on a pass-catching role three games ago, Wright has moved into third place on the Bucs’ receiving list with 13 catches, including seven for 91 yards a week ago against the Eagles.

Those seven catches were one fewer than Dallas Clark caught in his best game for the Bucs last season and only two fewer than Kellen Winslow had in his best game for the Bucs two years ago.

“It’s a tough position to play because of the pass protection responsibility and the run-blocking component, but we’ve been really pleased with his ability to transfer over the past couple of weeks,’’ Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. “Tim has given us an added dimension.’’

When he signed with the team as an undrafted free agent last spring, Wright figured it was only a matter of time before he’d become a tight end.

“When (Schiano) came to me and told me I was moving to tight end, I wasn’t surprised,’’ he said. “I was actually kind of preparing myself for it for a while, because I knew it could happen.

“Coaches have always said, ‘You’ve got the body for it.’ I was 220 or 222 pounds when I got here, and I knew that I could put on at least another 10 pounds if I had to. So, I knew I had the body frame for it. But I think I also have the heart for it. I did a lot of blocking in college, so I’m familiar with what it takes to hold somebody off and be in front of somebody and just pester them until the running back clears.’’

Even so, the Bucs do not envision Wright doing a lot of the dirty work that tight ends often do. Wright’s primary job is to catch passes.

“He has the toughness to mix it up,’’ Schiano said. “But is he going to be a 260-pound blocking tight end? No. What he is going to do is fight you tooth and nail and give us a chance to run the ball well.

“This is a guy who has receiver-like skill, but isn’t going to be a burner. What he’s going to be is a possession receiver at tight end, and he does have the ability to get some separation.’’

In one regard, Wright already has separated himself. Though Tom Crabtree remains first on the tight end depth chart, Wright has clearly become the favorite tight end target of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon.

“We’ve been working together since rookie mini-camp really, since back when he was a (wide receiver),’’ said Glennon, who has targeted Wright 15 times and completed 12 passes to him the past two games. “Our chemistry is great.

“And he’s really come on as a tight end for us, and that’s great, because he can create a little mismatch problem.

“He’s been a receiver his whole life, but he’s done a really good job as a tight end.’’

rcummings@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7979

Twitter: @RCummingsTBO

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