Pats have the Wright stuff; Second-year player is impressive.


Byline: Rich Garven FOXBORO - Mike Wright isn't a unique player, but he is a special player. Make that a special teams player. And, like white lobsters and blue diamonds, a rare one at that. Wright is 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, which, even by NFL standards, is a large body. That he is fast enough at that size to get up and down the field on kickoffs and punts puts him in a small pool of players. Or, as special teams skipper Larry Izzo said, "It's not standard." Wright is anything but typical, having made the Patriots last season as an undrafted rookie defensive lineman. He was invited back for a second term and knows exactly why. "They keep putting me out there and believing in what I can do," Wright said. "For a guy like me, kickoffs are a great opportunity. Defense isn't going to be enough. I need kickoffs and kickoff returns to keep me around here." Izzo, who's seen a lot in his 11 seasons as a pro, likes the stuff Wright brings to the table. "He's a big guy, he can run well, he's physical, he's tough," Izzo said. "Usually those things right away fit well into the kicking game. We're expecting him to be a big contributor for us in whatever role he has. "I have total confidence in him. He's a good football player. He's cares about the game and he cares about his job." It's a level field, but it seems Wright has always been looking uphill. He was an all-state honoree as a high school senior in Ohio, but ended up at a Division 2 school. He played on - how about this - special teams at Ashland University during his one season there. Wright then returned to his hometown, transferring to the University of Cincinnati. He made the Bearcats as a walk-on and had a solid, if unspectacular collegiate career that was interrupted by injury. After going undrafted, Wright signed with the Patriots and overcame incredibly long odds to survive the final cut. He appeared in 13 games and made 16 tackles. There are plenty of talented players not in the NFL because they don't have the desire required to play special teams. Then there are guys like Wright, who buy themselves talent-development time because they are willing and able to contribute on special teams. Wright's made the most of his time here. He was one of nine players recognized for their...

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