Patriots' DL Wright may get larger role

Nov 4, 2009 - 1:41 AM By HOWARD ULMAN AP Sports Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Mike Wright's playing time increased after the New England Patriots traded star defensive end Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders a week before the season.

It's due to grow again now that the player who moved into Seymour's spot, Jarvis Green, is recovering from knee surgery.

"It's tough to lose any player on the defense," Wright said Tuesday, "but we're going to let Jarvis handle his business and we're going to take care of what we can on the field."

Green had started the Patriots' first seven games then had knee surgery during their bye week and is unlikely to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins (3-4). The Patriots (5-2) did not say which knee was affected and provided no details on Green's condition but didn't place him on injured reserve, which would have ended his season. Green didn't practice Tuesday but walked through the locker room without a visible limp and declined to talk with reporters.

Meanwhile, Wright's career gets another unexpected boost.

He made the Patriots in 2005 as a rookie free agent out of Cincinnati but had just 16 tackles in 13 games, none of them starts. He started four games the next season then was limited by injuries to nine games in 2007. He started two of his 16 games last year and appeared headed for a similar workload until Seymour, a five-time Pro Bowl player, was traded for a first-round draft pick in 2011.

Since then, Wright has started one game at defensive end and two at defensive tackle and leads the Patriots with four sacks, matching the total in his first four seasons.

"I'm trying to take what I do in practice more to the field," he said. "Comfort level, experience, it's all playing into my production, so I'm just thankful it's happening."

Wright has gotten more playing time at right end than he did in past seasons.

"I've been playing a little bit more this year (on that side) since Seymour's gone and Jarvis is over there, so I'm kind of backing up Jarvis a little bit more over there," Wright said. "It's been good. I've been getting a lot of reps over there in games and it's been helping me out a lot so I've been a lot more comfortable over there."

Without Green, the Patriots, who use mostly a 3-4 alignment, have just five defensive linemen. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork and end Ty Warren are starters while Wright and rookies Myron Pryor and Ron Brace have been backups.

Pryor, a sixth-round draft pick from Kentucky, has played more than Brace, a second-rounder from Boston College who was inactive for the Patriots' last game, a 35-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London.

"We're happy with them," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "It's just a matter of Myron played quite a bit in this last game in our sub package. We felt he gives us a little something because of the way we were going to play a certain front. That was kind of his role in that Tampa game. So that can change week to week. We're pleased with both Ron and Myron."

Warren left the Tampa Bay game with an injured right ankle but said on WEEI radio on Monday that he was "feeling pretty good about my situation."

Last season, the Dolphins used their wildcat offense for the first time when they played the Patriots in the 11th game for both teams.

"It gives the running back a little bit more time to read the defense, see where everything is since he's getting the ball right off the bat," Wright said. "When they're in that wildcat, it pretty much means (they'll) run, but they do have the ability to pass, so that kind of throws people off."

The key for Wright is to be patient in reading the play and then trying to stop it, no matter what position he plays.

"I'm the utility guy," he said. "So wherever they want to put me, I'll be and I'll be prepared."

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