Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' Eric Wright returns from drug suspension

TAMPA — Bucs CB Eric Wright has returned to the team after his four-game suspension and is eligible to be in the lineup for the season finale against the Falcons on Sunday.

But coach Greg Schiano was noncommittal Monday when asked if Wright would play and said he wouldn't decide until he saw Wright in practice.

The Bucs were off Monday and are off today. They will practice Wednesday.

"He is back," Schiano said of Wright. "Can't tell you right now (if he will play Sunday) without getting on the field and seeing where he is and formulating a plan and all those things. I think he'll be in shape. I just have to see what is the best thing for our football team."

Wright was suspended for the past four games for a violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy after an unsuccessful appeal. He said he took the prescription drug Adderall for an undisclosed health issue.

The decision on playing Wright will boil down to his ability to acclimate after a month away, Schiano said. "I don't think conditioning will be the issue," he said. "But being in good football shape and being in good cardio (shape) and change-of-direction shape, those are different."

FALCONS FOCUSED? Atlanta has sewn up the No. 1 playoff seed in the NFC. That raises a common question at this time of year: Will the Falcons play their starters and other key players or rest them for the playoffs?

They offered no direct answers after defeating the Lions on Saturday night to solidify their seed.

"We're going to play the game to win," coach Mike Smith said in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report. "That's how we approach it. It's an important game because it's a division game. All games are important. Does it have no bearing? It really does because we want to win every time we go out there to play."

Still, Smith did not say he would play his starters.

This is an unprecedented situation for the Falcons' current staff. Though the team earned the No. 1 seed in 2010, it needed to win its finale against the Panthers to clinch. That was followed by a devastating loss to the Packers in Atlanta's playoff opener, something the Falcons aren't forgetting.

Smith said he'll go about things differently leading up to this season's playoffs.

"We'll handle it differently in terms of our workload and the days that we are going to work during our bye week and what our schedule will be," he said. "We are not going to do anything like we did last time."

NO HINTS: Veteran S Ronde Barber might have played his last home game Sunday, but he wasn't nostalgic because, he said, no decision has been made about retirement.

Asked by the media whether he felt any emotion when he left the field, Barber, 37, feigned ignorance about the question's meaning.

"A lot of y'all were trying to take pictures of me," he said. "I don't know why."

A retirement decision won't be made for some time, Barber said. This year Barber didn't agree to his current one-year contract until March.

"I won't even entertain those notions yet," he said. "That's for me to do in the offseason. Week 16 of the season is no (time for a) retrospective for me."

View Stephen F. Holder's blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.

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