When Redskins practices begin in earnest, that is to say in mini-camps and in training camp, Kenny Wright figures to be in a familiar position.
The veteran cornerback will be working against some of the top wide receivers in the NFL--Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, Brandon Lloyd and others.
It's always been that way for Wright, no matter his NFL home.
With Minnesota between 1999 and 2001, he faced Cris Carter and Randy Moss on a regular basis. Then with Houston between 2002 and 2004, Wright took on Pro Bowler Andre Johnson in practices. Last year in Jacksonville he went up against the talented Jimmy Smith, who announced his retirement from the game--stunning many--several days ago.
The way Wright views it, being challenged by exceptional talent invariably forces a cornerback to elevate his game.
Adds Wright: "Facing top-caliber competition helps your confidence. If you can play against Cris Carter and Jimmy Smith, you can play in this league."
Actually, it was Carter, the former Philadelphia and Minnesota star who is now an HBO commentator, who taught Wright the ins and outs of the game when Wright was a young Vikings defensive back.
The 6-1, 207-pound Wright, who joined the Redskins this offseason, took part in his new team's first OTA (Organized Team Activity) on Tuesday at Redskin Park. Afterward, he said he aims to compete for playing time at corner as well as in nickel and other packages.
"I'm not a selfish player but at the same time I hope to earn playing time and get on the field in as many packages at possible," Wright said. "I want to help this team win. These guys got a taste of the postseason last year."
In his six previous seasons in the NFL, Wright has made it to the playoffs three times-in 1999 and 2000 with Minnesota and last year at Jacksonville. He maintains that postseason experience is invaluable.
"You know, you can tell someone about how the game speeds up in the playoffs, but until you've experienced it, it probably doesn't really sink in," says Wright, drafted by Minnesota in the fourth round out of Northwestern State (La.) in 1999.
Like former Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey, Wright is a native of Ruston, Louisiana. Wright, who is two years older than Ramsey, remembers playing against Ramsey in youth baseball leagues.
Wright spent the last four seasons in the AFC South, so that may give him a slight edge heading into 2006. The Redskins face Houston (Week 3), Jacksonville (Week 4) Tennessee (Week 6) and Indianapolis (Week 7) this season.
In a game for Houston against Jacksonville back in 2002, Wright came up with a career highlight: his first NFL sack. He remembers the sequence as if it happened an hour or so ago.
"All week long, our coaches were telling us about this shifty quarterback," Wright says. "Well, as it happened, I came through on a blitz and I was able to get to the quarterback."
He was referring, of course, to a player who is now a Redskin teammate-Mark Brunell.
Wright may be asked to blitz plenty more in the aggressive scheme of assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams.
What Wright also brings to the Redskins in 2006 in addition to playoff experience is durability. He can be a physical corner and he's missed just two games in his seven-year NFL career.
"I'm looking to come in here and compete. It's always been that way for me," Wright said Tuesday. "I'm a pretty big corner and I know Gregg Williams likes fighters."