Sunday, April 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs cornerback Eric Wright returns from suspension, apologizes

TAMPA — In the 10 starts Eric Wright has made at cornerback this season, the Bucs went 6-4 and were in playoff contention.

Then he missed the Nov. 25 game against Atlanta, a 24-23 home loss, with an Achilles injury. The next day he began serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. (Wright says it was for using Adderall, a stimulant.)

Wright returned to practice Wednesday healthy and rested, but the team he left is in a different spot. The Bucs, with the league's worst pass defense, have lost five straight and will miss the postseason for the fifth consecutive season.

"Absolutely, I apologize to the team as well as the organization and the Glazer family," said Wright, who signed a five-year deal worth $37.5 million ($15.5 million of which is guaranteed) in March. "It hurt me a lot to let the team down. It's just an unfortunate situation, and I'm looking forward to moving forward from here.

"It was extremely difficult. I mean, being at home, being away from my teammates and my coaches. You work all offseason and all preseason to get to this point, and to have to sit down and sit out for four games really hurt."

Wright's suspension was not without significant personal cost. He forfeited about $1.8 million in salary, the equivalent of four game checks. Perhaps more damaging is a clause in his contract that allows $7.5 million in guaranteed salary for 2013 to be voided.

Whether Wright plays in Sunday's finale against the Falcons depends on his conditioning and performance in practice. But coach Greg Schiano sounded even less certain about whether Wright can be depended upon for next season.

"How do you know?" Schiano said when asked if Wright's off-field issues are behind him. "I didn't know it was coming. So how am I going to know it will happen again or won't happen again? I don't. We've talked, and I feel good about what we've talked about. And that's all you really can do. Even before the fact, (you have to) educate and continue to educate the team because I'm not convinced that all these guys that have been positive Adderall tests were using Adderall. Obviously, it did because they tested positive. But I'm not sure there's an issue with all of them.

"But that doesn't matter. The rule is the rule. We have to make sure that we as an organization just keep educating our players."

Wright was the second Bucs cornerback suspended this season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Aqib Talib, since traded to the Patriots, also credited his four-game suspension levied in October to taking Adderall.

Wright said he used Adderall for a health problem during the offseason. The drug, typically used to treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, is allowed by the NFL with a prescription. Wright said an "exemption letter" for permission to use the drug was never sent to the league. He would not say if he now has a prescription for Adderall or if he still plans to take it.

"The situation is over. I served my four-game suspension, and I'm happy to be back on the team and having and opportunity to play in this game," Wright said.

"I feel a lot better. I've still got to go out there and finish the week of practice, and I'm just looking forward to getting better every day and seeing how it goes on Sunday."

Is Wright confident he will be with the Bucs next season?

"Until somebody tells me otherwise, I'm a Tampa Bay Buccaneer," he said. "I say that with a lot of pride. It's an honor to put on that jersey, and I'm just going to continue to work with that mind-set."

Rick Stroud can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.

Comments
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely able to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother, S...
Published: 04/21/18
Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

TAMPA —Wait 'til this year seems to be the refrain at One Buc Place, even though the team was strangled by expectations in 2017. But a solid offseason that has already brought a rebuilt defensive line, new center and place-kicker has renewed th...
Published: 04/21/18
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Published: 04/20/18
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Published: 04/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

The NFL did the Bucs no favors with their 2018 schedule, Rick Stroud says, making them open at New Orleans, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Plus, linebacker Kendall Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle, p...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Published: 04/19/18
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Published: 04/19/18