Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Eric Wright soon to be suspended; Bucs say he's also hurt

TAMPA — Eric Wright spent practice Monday pedaling a stationary bicycle, watching his teammates prepare for their upcoming game against the Oakland Raiders. Likewise, the Bucs weren't in a position to move forward with their soon-to-be suspended cornerback.

Coach Greg Schiano opened his news conference by saying league rules prohibit the team from commenting on a story that Wright is facing a four-game league suspension for using Adderall.

Schiano said Wright could not practice because of an Achilles injury suffered in Thursday night's 36-17 win at Minnesota.

Fox NFL analyst Jay Glazer reported Sunday that Wright is facing a four-game suspension after testing positive for Adderall, a stimulant that is considered a performance-enhancing drug unless prescribed by a physician.

Wright would become the second Bucs cornerback to be suspended for Adderall. Aqib Talib is scheduled to return from his four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on PEDs Nov. 5; he said he had taken an Adderall. Since neither the league nor the Bucs will comment on the case, it's likely Wright will appeal.

"I really can't discuss it and neither can Eric," Schiano said at the start of his news conference Monday. "I'm not trying to be evasive at all, but that's what comes down from the league and that's where I'm going to be.

"You saw he was on the bike. He has an Achilles (injury) coming out of the game that is a little bit of a concern. Didn't know about it after the game, really didn't know about it until recently. But I think the injury, he'll be okay, but I can't predict."

Schiano said the Bucs' depth at cornerback could be tested against the Raiders. Wright's likely replacement would be former Largo High star Leonard Johnson, who started Thursday as the nickel corner and recorded an interception.

"I just think he competed," Schiano said. "The stage doesn't get a lot bigger in a regular season than a national television game against a team that's doing well offensively. And Leonard, it wasn't too big for him. I think that's the best thing. He competed, he made some plays. He had an interception. He really, (another possible) one, take a look at it, it's up for discussion, too. He had two really big-time plays and then other ones that go unnoticed, the ones where he does his job."

Johnson, an undrafted rookie from Iowa State, said he tried not to put too much pressure on himself Thursday and just competed.

"I just went out and had fun," Johnson said. "I tried to do everything I was asked to do. Being able to start at the nickel and the dime was something I was looking forward to doing all week. I didn't put too much pressure on myself during the week about going out there with the first team. I just let it all hang out and just wanted to be natural."

The Bucs have other options if Wright is out Sunday. Brandon McDonald, who was replaced by Johnson, had been the nickel corner until he sprained his ankle against the Saints. The Bucs also could move safety Ronde Barber to cornerback and replace him at safety with Ahmad Black.

"I'm taking it one day at a time," Johnson said. "The whole Eric Wright situation will work itself out, the Achilles or whatever else is going on. Right now, I'm just trying to focus on getting better.''

Neither the Bucs nor the NFL will comment on Wright. The league also moved the trade deadline back two days until Thursday because of Hurricane Sandy so it's possible no information on Wright's case would be forthcoming for several days.

With both starting cornerbacks likely suspended for the same drug, Schiano was asked if he believed the team had a problem with Adderall use.

"No," Schiano said, ending the news conference.

Rick Stroud can be reached at [email protected] and can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow him on Twitter at @NFLStroud.

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