Chicago Bears safety Major Wright enters his third season in the NFL in 2012 with questions that have to be answered. Wright has shown a nose for the football in run support but hasn't been as solid in pass defense and now faces a challenge from rookie Brandon Hardin.
Most young NFL players go through a transition period in which they learn and develop and then become high-level players in the NFL. Usually by the third season of their careers, players are playing at the best level of their careers and will either progress some or won't make it into their fourth or fifth seasons.
For third-year safety Major Wright, 2012 marks the fork in the road for his career in Chicago. Wright, a third-round pick out of Florida, is essentially seen as a first-round draft pick for the Bears since he was selected after the Bears traded picks away for Jay Cutler.
Whether that's a fair assessment of Wright's skills is highly debatable, but what is clear is he was selected to be a starter. Wright started 10 of 12 games in 2011 and again missed time with injuries. Wright's reckless style of play has led to injuries that have kept him from developing the type of experience he needs to be a leader on defense.
The Bears' defense is looking for that leader in the secondary to replace the oft-injured Mike Brown. Wright has that Brown style of play but has been injured a lot in the same way Brown was.
In the final game against the Vikings last year, Wright stepped up and made 10 tackles (a career high). He was healthy and played well in a game the Bears didn't have to win but needed to win to close out the season on a high note.
This year is Wright's year to put the injuries behind him and step up his game. During OTAs and veteran minicamp he started to show improved signs in pass coverage. He was breaking on the ball, tipping passes and grabbing important interceptions in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills.
Wright now needs to carry that momentum over into training camp and seize the opportunity to be a playmaker on defense.
With Hardin's arrival and Chris Conte's continued development, Wright has to become the player he is capable of becoming. He may not be a Pro Bowl-level player, but he has shown signs he could be a consistent above-average safety for the Bears for a few more years.
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