Earlier this week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith mentioned that second-year tight end Tim Wright had experienced a rough practice or two, with his usually sure hands failing him a couple more times than usual. Predictably, that drew a crowd to Wright's locker during Thursday's media session. Just as predictably, the young player handled the criticism well; his candor and attitude have been just as impressive as his conversion from wide receiver to tight end over the last 14 months.
"It's just something that comes with the game," said Wright. "You go on a little fall but you've just got to get back up and keep working on what you're doing. I just want to go out there and perfect my craft every day. Sometimes it's not your best day but you've got to flush it, go back out there the next day and put it all together."
A year after absorbing a new position on the fly and then surprisingly emerging as a 50-catch tight end in the NFL, Wright is powering his way through another challenging learning curve this summer. The Bucs' new offense has the former Rutgers wideout in unfamiliar spots at times – including some H-back work – and that may have contributed to his recent hiccups. What's important is that he's learning from his struggles and proving once again that he can be an asset to the offense.
In fact, Smith had far more encouraging words to say about Wright on Thursday.
“I love Tim Wright as a football player," said the coach. "You go through spells where you don’t play your best ball for a short period of time. When I talked then, it was a little period of time where Tim hadn’t played his best ball, but you look at the big picture, Tim Wright has been a good football player for us, we like what he’ll be able to do. There have been other days where I talked about going forward what we’re going to do with him, you can split him out and the matchups we’ll have with safeties and linebackers. You can catch me at any time and I might be disappointed in a player, but big picture, no there’s no disappointment with Tim Wright. We like him being on our football team.”
Smith touched on other topics on Thursday after practice, as noted below.
“We just made a trade. We just traded Kelcie McCray to the Kansas City Chiefs for
On newly acquired guard Rishaw Johnson and where he will line up:
“As an offensive guard for us. He’s played a little bit of center also, so it gives us a little flexibility there. Just a big athlete – young, looked pretty good on video. Don’t know a lot about him right now, but everything has checked out. Again, whenever you get a chance to add a big, young athlete, you have to be pretty excited about that. He has good video. It’s not like he’s some guy we’re trying to search for. Being on an active roster for a period of time with Seattle and Kansas City, we know those guys. And, of course, he’s a good player. Kansas City also got a good football player in Kelcie McCray. We like our safety position. We had a few guys there. So we feel like we got a good football player and they got a good football player also.”
“We’re not going into a whole lot of detail. What I said is that we’ll continue to look for players this time of year – guys that might not have a great chance of making your ball club, and maybe that’s the case on their end also. It just seemed like a good fit as much as anything. He’s a player that became available and we thought it was a good fit for us.”
On which players will not play in the third preseason game on Saturday:
“That’d be hard for me to say right now. Some of the players I’ve talked about earlier and said will be out for an extended period of time won’t.
On how much emphasis he puts on winning in the preseason:
“I’m not just making that statement, but anytime you keep score, you want to win. When you go and play a pickup basketball game, they’re keeping score – you want to win. So we would like to [win]. But there’s a bigger picture too: we would like to win, but we need to see certain guys. If we were just interested in winning, we would play our best players every down. We’re not doing that. We have other things we need to do. We would like to win when our guys that we’re going to tee up with for Carolina when they’re out there. At the same time though, some of the backups might have to be able to play, so you want them to play well too. So a lot goes into it. And we haven’t won a game. I’d like to go with the routine that we’re going to have during the regular season when we win a football game, and we haven’t been able to do that. I haven’t really answered your question. I realize that. I guess I could say, ‘Yes, we would like to win.’”
On how running back Charles Sims’ injury will affect him going forward:
“I think it affects you. You just came into the NFL and you want to make an impact right away and something happens to you that hasn’t happened before. it’s humbling, but then you move on. You see that a lot of players go through injuries and have to come back. Knowing a player like Charles Sims though, he’ll recover and that’s what we have to do is let him know that this is a part of it. [Injuries] happen and you’ll come back as strong as ever. We just want him to come back as soon as possible also.”
On what he has seen from defensive end
“Probably exactly what you would want to see from him when he came out, he was drafted so high. We brought him in here – we’re always looking for outside pass-rushers and we brought Larry in hoping that he could give us some of that. In practice, from the first day he was ok, the next day he was better, so we’re anxious to let him play. You might see him early in this game, we want to see him against good competition to see exactly what he can do.”
On kicking touchbacks:
“Preseason-wise and again going into what we like to do in the preseason, we want to see if our kickoff team can cover. We don’t necessarily want to kick the ball out of the end zone. We know
On having Koenen kickoff instead of kicker
“I don’t think he gets out of his flow, but I think it’s good to have a player like Mike that can do both. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t happen very often and for Mike, say your kicker goes down, who kicks in a game? You need someone. You will see Mike, hopefully we’ll have opportunities, but Mike will kick an extra point during the preseason, one of these games. He’s a valuable guy with all of the things he can do and as Connor let me know, [he] can punt a little bit also. That competition is always good.