Chicago Bears: Eric Berry
August, 3, 2011
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears safety Major Wright considers his interception of Jay Cutler in Tuesday's practice a mere prelude of what's to come during the regular season.
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhAs long as Major Wright can stay healthy, expect him to start and contribute to the Bears.
Expecting to take one of the starting safety spots this year, Wright prepared adequately.
"A lot of picks this year for me, you know," Wright said. "By staying healthy and coachable, I can do that."
Wright spent the offseason training at Xtreme Performance Enhancement in his home state of Florida with Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers and safety Eric Berry, among others. Berry was the fifth overall pick of Wright's draft class, and blossomed into the first Chiefs rookie to earn a Pro Bowl nod since linebacker Derrick Thomas (1989).
Wright, meanwhile, missed five games in a rookie season mired by injuries; first straining a groin early in training camp, followed by breaking his left index finger against the Chargers in the preseason and later pulling a hamstring against the Cowboys that put him on the shelf for five weeks.
"Last year with me getting injured, I really studied. I couldn't do much, so I studied, studied and studied," Wright said.
The extra classroom sessions seem to be translating on the field, according to Bears secondary coach Jon Hoke, who admits Wright's health is the team's main concern.
"No question [the major concern for Wright is staying healthy]," Hoke said. "He was a guy who through his whole college career never missed anything. Then it was weird. The first year here he broke his finger in the San Diego game, then a hamstring in the Dallas game.
"But we're always encouraged with our guys. We like what they're doing. I mean, it's early. There were no OTAs or anything, and we're only a few days into camp. But we're encouraged by what we see, [and] he's going to get an opportunity. He played a ton last year."
Almost immediately after the season came to conclusion, Wright put his time and energy into the playbook, "going over plays, working on my breaks, working on [tracking] the ball," he said, in addition to chiseling his frame to make it virtually impervious to injury.
Training with Berry at XPE, Wright said the achievements of his colleague pushed him to attain similar success in his first real opportunity to take over one of the safety spots full time. Free agent Danieal Manning signed with the Texans, leaving Wright as the most logical candidate to start opposite Chris Harris.
Wright says he's ready.
"There's no pressure because I come out and get better every day. I'm coachable, and I do what I have to do out here in practice so when it's game time, I'm prepared," Wright said. "I feel like I'm in better shape than I was in last year. I went out and I went at it [during the offseason]. Working with Eric Berry -- with him being the No. 1 safety coming out of my class -- it pushed me."