Injured Bucs cornerback Eric Wright might play vs. Falcons

Published Nov. 24, 2012

TAMPA — Bucs CB Eric Wright has been down but still is not out for Sunday's game against the Falcons.

Wright, who aggravated an Achilles/ankle injury and did not finish either of the past two games, was limited at practice Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday.

But Wright, listed as questionable, has not been ruled out.

"I think he's done enough that we'll see," coach Greg Schiano said.

If Wright can't play, rookie Leonard Johnson, a former Largo High quarterback, likely would start at right cornerback opposite E.J. Biggers. LeQuan Lewis would be the nickel corner in passing situations. With Atlanta QB Matt Ryan leading the NFL in passing, it's not an ideal scenario. "It's going to be very challenging," Schiano said. "And now you have some moving parts on our side."

KEEPING CLOSE: If the recent history of the Bucs-Falcons rivalry is any indication, Sunday's game will be won in the final minutes.

Though Atlanta has won six of the past seven, six games since 2008 have been decided by 10 or fewer points, including three by three points.

"I think the NFC South is one of the most competitive divisions in all of football year in and year out," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "It's always been hard-fought games, and we anticipate the same type of game this weekend."

In 2010, Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount was stopped short of the goal line on fourth and 1, allowing Atlanta to squeak out a 27-21 home win. In their second meeting that year, the Bucs blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to lose 28-24 at home. Last season the Bucs won 16-13 at home. Last season's finale was a 45-24 Falcons home win. "Sunday's going to be a fun one," Bucs TE Dallas Clark said. "It's going to be a great environment, a great atmosphere. I expect a hard-fought, 60-minute-and-then-some type of game."

RIGHT FIT: Lost in the shuffle of Sunday's come-from-behind victory over the Panthers was the first career touchdown by Bucs backup TE Nate Byham. Byham, 24, a third-year pro out of Pittsburgh, caught a 3-yard pass from Josh Freeman in the back of the end zone in the first quarter.

"It was awesome," he said. "It was a really cool experience. It happened so quick."

It has been a whirlwind for Byham, who was signed Oct. 2 after spending his first two seasons with San Francisco. A sixth-round draft pick in 2010, Byham had a strong rookie season, playing in 14 games. He tore his left ACL on the second day of camp last year, ending his season.

Byham, released in August, was confident he'd get another shot and hoped it would be in Tampa Bay due to his connections. Tight end coach Brian Angelichio coached him at Pitt, and he faced Schiano's Rutgers team for four seasons.

Byham, 6 feet 4, 264 pounds, is known for being a good blocker, and that's how he mainly has been used. But he also has caught three passes for 18 yards in four games (one start).

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"I feel really comfortable in the offense now," Byham said. "It took only a few weeks to get caught up to speed. It's been good for me. I've come in at the right time and have been riding the wave."

Panther fined: The NFL fined Carolina LB Thomas Davis $21,000 for Sunday's helmet-to-helmet hit on Bucs WR Tiquan Underwood.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.