BEREA — The Kansas City Chiefs needed only three plays to go after Eric Wright.
He should be used to it. His own team’s been picking on him for a week.
Wright, a rookie cornerback from UNLV, ran step for step with Kansas City’s Samie Parker on a fly down the sideline. At the last moment, as the ball was about to fall into Parker’s arms, Wright looked back and knocked the pass away.
“I knew they were going to test me like that,” Wright said. “It was nice to get my feet wet. I’m glad the first one went well.”
Wright started in place of veteran Kenny Wright, who’s nursing a sore groin. If Eric Wright keeps up his strong start, the second-round pick will be in the starting lineup opposite Leigh Bodden for the season opener Sept. 9 vs. Pittsburgh.
Wright played the whole first half Saturday. He was beaten off the line by Chris Hannon on a quick slant, but Hannon dropped the ball. Wright made a nice tackle on a short pass later to force a punt.
“It’s just another day to compete for the starting job,” Wright said before the game.
Wright has been as busy as anyone in camp. He’s taken turns with the first and second teams and his man always seems to be the intended receiver.
He’s been picked on more than Screech in “Saved by the Bell.”
In an afternoon practice of two-a-days, Charlie Frye threw Wright’s way on the first three plays of 11-on-11s. Frye made a good throw to tight end Kellen Winslow on the sideline, threw deep for speedster Tim Carter and hit Braylon Edwards on a hook.
The bad news: three plays, three completions. The good news: Wright was in position on all three.
“He’s made some plays on balls, he’s also given up some balls,” coach Romeo Crennel said. “That’s what rookies do.”
“I think I’ve held up fairly well,” Wright said. “You definitely have to have short-term memory playing cornerback. Guys are going to catch passes, especially in a situation where they do pick on you. Most likely they come at you with some of their best plays, their best timing. You’ve just got to go onto the next play.
“I made some plays and I gave up some plays. I’m just trying to continue to work and get better.”
Crennel said there’s no grand plan to put Wright in a crucible.
“That’s what happens in the NFL,” Crennel said. “You put a rookie out there, people go after the rookie. That’s all that’s happening. It’s common sense.
“And that’s going to happen in a game. People are going to test a rookie, whatever position he’s playing.”
Wright has taken it in stride.
“That’s just part of being a rookie,” he said. “The quarterbacks along with Coach Crennel are trying to prepare me for what I’m going to face in the season. Whenever I’m out there, I’m Eric Wright the rookie, and they’re going to pick on me.”
Wright speaks without anger or frustration. Nothing seems to rattle him.
That’s a necessary attribute for a cornerback. Especially one so young who’s being counted on to solidify a position that was a weak link in 2006 after being decimated by injuries.
“As a corner you’ve got to have that swagger, the way you move around on the field,” said receiver Travis Wilson, who played against Wright in college. “He definitely has that, so now it’s just a matter of him understanding the pace of the game, getting comfortable and believing in himself 100 percent and he’ll be a great player.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.