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Jets WR Wright a special-teams stud

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
When I put together my AFC East midseason awards this week, I tried to name the best special-teams player. I couldn't come up with one. So I punted.

In taking a tour around the various units, nobody separated himself enough in my mind. No dramatic, game-winning field goals. No string of awe-inspiring punts. Roscoe Parrish has been dazzling, but also hurt. Leon Washington and Ellis Hobbs have been excellent, but I couldn't bring myself to select one over the other.

And there in my e-mail inbox this morning, I found a winner:

New York Jets receiver Wallace Wright.

Field goals, punts and returns are easy to quantify. Tackles are an unofficial stat, and special-teams tackles are even more arbitrary.

But Jets media relations director David Tratner and intern Matthew Hintz went through the 31 other teams' media packets to compile a comprehensive list of how each coaching staff tracks its tackles.

Wright is second in the NFL and leads the AFC with 16 special-teams tackles. Washington Redskins linebacker Khary Campbell has 18.

"His speed is his real strength," Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff said Friday. "He is very, very fast. For his speed and size he is physically very strong He brings that explosiveness to the position. ... He can fight through blocks, or block and is able to make tackles.

"As a special teams role player, which is a speed role, he is performing at a high level. He has come very close to making some absolutely dominating plays."

Five of Wright's special-teams tackles are inside the opponent's 25-yard line, four on kickoffs and one on a punt return for no gain.

Wright has downed one punt at the 5-yard line and has drawn three penalties (two holds and one illegal block) on coverage units.

"There's no secret," Wright said before the season. "I just feel like I go out there and I want it more than my opponents. I go out there with the mentality that I'm not going to get beat, and I'll take that over everything else. It's just effort, really, just wanting to go down there and make a play."

The third-year pro, undrafted out of North Carolina, was awarded a contract after a rookie tryout camp in 2006. He has no receptions this year, but he had six for 87 yards last year.

"He did a lot of really good things in terms of the way that he ran routes, the way that he picked up the offense, the way that he tried," Jets coach Eric Mangini recently said of how Wright impressed them at his tryout. "Some of that is just sheer effort, desire and willingness. You combine that with his other core attributes, you might have something. It was great."