|Former UNC star Wright looking to carve out new niche with Panthers|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Monday, 07 June 2010 17:14|
CHARLOTTE – Wallace Wright realized early on in his NFL career that if he wanted to stick around in this league he’d better find a niche.
And he did just that running down kicks and punts during four very good seasons with the New York Jets.
But now, after joining the Carolina Panthers, he’s hoping to expand that role.
Wright, a Fayetteville native who played collegiately at North Carolina, signed this off-season with the Panthers after the Jets failed to make him a tender offer as a restricted free agent and thinks it’s time to show what he can do on offense.
He’s been playing well in OTAs and there’s an outside chance he could see some spot playing time in the Panthers offense, especially if the team actually uses some of the four-receiver packages they’ve installed in recent weeks.
"That's my goal," Wright said. "I got into the league playing special teams and I excelled at it in New York. They brought me in here to work on special teams but also to help on offense. That’s what I’ve been told. I’m very excited about that possibility and I couldn’t ask for more. Plus, I’m back home.”
In New York, Wallace played in all 16 games last season for the Jets and ranked third on the team with 22 tackles in the regular season. He added four more in the playoffs.
He had 26 tackles the year before, tying for the team lead and was third in 2007 with 16.
He had just seven receptions in four seasons.
“I feel like I just need that opportunity to play more (wide receiver),” Wright said.
However, with the Panthers having veteran Steve Smith and highly-drafted rookies Armanti Edwards and Brandon LaFell, as well as holdover Dwayne Jarrett on the roster, it’s likely Wright’s biggest contributions this season will come on special teams.
“When I came in my rookie year I figured out pretty fast I wasn’t going to be a starter,” said Wright, a former walk-on at UNC. “And when you’re not a starter you have to find a way to make the bus. A lot of college guys don’t want to do it, but I was the (special teams) captain at North Carolina so I’ve always done it. I always enjoyed it. And if you’re going to be doing it, why not be one of the best at it? Why just be another body.”
Wright said it takes a certain mentality to do what he does.
“It’s hard work and you have to want to do it,” Wright said. “You have to work at it and want to play special teams. There are guys on the kickoff team who want to play receiver and hey, so do I. That’s the goal. But on Sunday I want to run down on kickoff. It doesn’t matter if I’m a starting receiver or not, I still want to be on special teams. There’s nothing like being on the field for the opening kickoff in a big game.”