Vikings' Jarius Wright expects more chances with Percy Harvin out
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But Wright was cautious about playing up his role too much on Thursday, one day after the Minnesota Vikings placed Harvin on season-ending injured reserve with an ankle injury.
"I don't think it's no bigger than it has been for me," Wright said. "I don't think my role will really change just with Percy being out for the rest of the season. I still have the same role, whether he's up or whether he's down."
Players learned of the decision to place Harvin on IR at a team meeting on Wednesday, hours before the Vikings announced the decision in a media release.
Halfback Adrian Peterson called it "shocking to me. But obviously, it's just doing what's best for him and hopefully he heals up and we have him back next year ready to roll."
Said Wright, "It was kind of heartbreaking. I just wanted to get Percy back and see how we would be on the field at the same time, and I know a lot of the fans wanted to get a chance to see that also. I just wanted to get a chance to see that."
Instead, it'll be on the likes of Wright to help lift a Vikings passing game that has scuffled at times in Harvin's absence, which left them without their top receiver.
Quarterback Christian Ponder was just 12-of-25 passing (48%) for 119 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in last weekend's loss at Green Bay, failing to complete a pass to one of his wide receivers until the fourth quarter.
"Everyone had a great attitude," Wright said. "We go out there and I think it shows a lot about our character. Guys going out there and still practicing hard and still going hard even though it's late in the season."
Wright was inactive for the Vikings' first nine games, then made his debut on Nov. 11 against Detroit -- one week after Harvin suffered the Grade 3 sprain of his left ankle that so far has caused him to miss three games.
A fourth-round draft pick (No. 134 overall) from Arkansas, Wright had three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Lions and a team-high seven catches for 49 yards the following week in a loss at Chicago.
"We're not putting too much pressure on him," Ponder said of Wright during an interview on Wednesday night with 1500 ESPN, shortly after the Harvin decision was announced.
"He's a great player. He's a guy that is really easy to throw to. He runs great routes, you know where he's going to be, he's really quick in and out of his cuts. He's going to make a lot of plays for us. He's going to get out there and play well."
Coach Leslie Frazier said last week the Vikings had begun putting in plays specifically to get the ball to Wright. But he had only one catch for 13 yards against the Packers, on the game's final play.
Think that'll change starting on Sunday against Chicago?
"With Percy out, I'm going to get more opportunities, and I understand that," Wright said. "But at the same time, it's (been a few weeks that) Percy's been out. So, I'm just going to keep approaching it like I've been approaching it then."