The Buccaneers appear to have their two starting safeties in Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson, but still signed former Bears safety Major Wright during free agency. The former Gators standout is helping the starting duo adjust to the Tampa 2 scheme while also preparing himself to see action in 2014.
When new Bucs safety Major Wright became available on the free agent market this spring, the other 31 NFL teams were at a distinct disadvantage when trying to lure him to their city.
“Lovie [Smith] being in Tampa played a big role in me coming here,’’ said Wright, who signed a one-year deal worth $795,000. “That’s my coach. He’s the one who drafted me, and I was with him for three years, so I’ve got a good feel for the man. I also know this defense, so that played a role, too.’’
Wright, who played for Smith his first three seasons in the NFL, was shocked when the Bears parted ways with his former – and now current coach – following the 2012 season.
“I was shocked, I just couldn’t believe it,’’ Wright said. “We had just gone 10-6 and missed the playoffs by one game, so it’s fair to say it was shocking.’’
Now that Wright, who has 253 career tackles and nine interceptions, and Smith have been reunited, the former Florida Gators standout is trying to define his role with the Buccaneers.
“Whatever my coach needs me to do, I am going to do it,” Wright said. “I am going to work my butt off every day. I know this defense in and out so I have a jump on that and it is just knowing it, and playing it. Reading your keys and doing whatever your job is supposed to be.”
Part of that role will be helping mentor starters Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron, who are recovering from injuries and haven't been able to participate in the team's OTAs. Wright’s experience in Smith’s Tampa 2 defense gives the team another coach on the field.
“They are real good, those two guys (Goldson and Barron) are learning and focusing on off the field putting themselves in game positions [and situations],” Wright said. “I help them and whatever they have questions on – any questions on formations, personnel – I help them.”
While having experience is an advantage for Wright, working his way into the starting lineup could be a difficult task, but he also knows most likely he will get some playing time this season.
“It is hard to go 16 games without any nicks or bruises,” Wright said. “When I was in Chicago, my first and second year, I ended up getting more playing time than I thought because of nicks and bruises. So you really have to know your stuff because at any moment you can be in.”
The significance of being literally the last line of defense on Sunday afternoons isn’t something lost on Wright.
“It is very, big, it is huge and gigantic,” Wright said. “If you have any second-guessing you can get beat, it’s a touchdown. You have to know what you are doing. We are like a quarterback. You have to make calls and checks and stuff like that. No busts, no busts – we have to all be on the same page.”
Wright, who set a career high in tackles last season with 100, isn’t just familiar with Smith. There is another player that Wright knows a lot about on Tampa Bay’s roster.
“Josh McCown is the real deal, believe me,’’ Wright said. “He studies the game so well that when he comes out on the field, it’s like boom, he’s got this. I wasn’t surprised by his success last year.”
After four seasons playing in mild weather in Chicago, Wright, a native of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., will have to readjust his conditioning to the Florida heat.
“That is taking me some adjusting to get used to,” Wright said. “It is very humid here, but I am from here (Florida) so I kind of had some idea of it, but it is tough.”
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