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Wright's Season on Teams Is a Work of Art

Wallace Wright is one of the Jets' illustrated men. His body art is a canvas to behold.

"My favorite one is of my parents," Wright said, pointing to his body. Then on to his right biceps: "This one is for my position in college — 'Freak Time, Show Time.' 'FREAK' stands for 'Fresh Receivers Excite All Krowds Smoothly.' That's K instead of C for Krowds."

Like an experienced tour guide, he moved from one attraction to the next: " '29 Tar Heel,' that was my number at North Carolina ... this is the Last Supper ... above that is an angel crying ... no, they're not related ... here's 'Smooth,' my nickname in college."

But Wright's favorite design lies around his neckline like a 12-gem necklace. It reads:


"This one right here," he said, "that's my definition of me. I've always been an underdog in my eyes and I always will be. I walked on in college and made it there. I was a tryout with the Jets and I made it here."

Wright has cleared a spot for himself in the jewelry case, as his three seasons in green and white attest. And he is dangerously closing in on non-underdog status. His special teams play is starting to be recognized by the league's coaches, players and fans, and that's good timing as all three of those groups begin to think about casting their Pro Bowl ballots.

"Special teams has always been my niche," he said. "I was never going to be a starter when we've got Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. Those are guys I look up to as the leaders of my position. I know that I've got to contribute elsewhere.

"I wouldn't say special teams is dirty work, but it's a tough job. My goal is I want to go to the Pro Bowl."

ST coach Mike Westhoff was asked recently about Wright's contributions and he said the player's speed is his real strength.

"Wallace is very, very fast, and for his speed and size he is physically very strong," Westhoff said. "He brings that explosiveness to the position. He can fight through blocks and block himself and is able to make tackles. As a special teams role player, which is a speed role, he is performing at a high level. He has come very close to making some absolutely dominating plays."

Some of those plays:

*  Five tackles inside the opponents' 25 on kickoff coverage and one I-25 tackle in punt coverage.

*  One punt downed inside the 5.

*  Three penalties drawn on opponents (two holds, one illegal block), all in a two-week span.

*  A total of 18 teams tackles that, heading into Sunday's Week 11 games, leads the AFC.

For all those reasons, Wright was ready for what the Patriots threw at him on Thursday night.

"Coach Westhoff told me they were going to be at me a little bit. I'm the lead guy in the AFC," he said. "I kind of expected them to game-plan a little bit. They came at me on some of the things I normally do. I expected that and it's smart on their part."

But the Pats couldn't shut him down. He was first man in on Jay Feely's perfect "pooch" kickoff for the second-quarter tackle of rookie Matt Slater at the NE-15.

And two series before that, you may have seen the end zone replay of Leon Washington's kickoff-return TD, with twin beacons No. 15 — Wright — and No. 16 — Brad Smith — showing him the runway across the Gillette Stadium turf for his clear path down the left sideline.

"Whenever Leon runs for a touchdown, the guys up front take pride in that," Wright said. "The guys blocking don't get as much credit as he does, but that's all in the game. He's a great runner. It all starts with us up front. His job is to take it the distance. Everybody's playing their part."

And just maybe the way Wright has been acting and how he plays his part for the next month will earn him an extra role in February in Honolulu. But first things first: Tennessee and then the final five games of the regular season.

"I've never seen the locker room like this," he said, savoring the scene from his stool, one of the last Jets to leave for the buses back to the Providence airport. "A lot of guys have been here for years. This was huge, coming up here to Foxboro and beating the Patriots to go 1-1 with them this year.

"Now we kind of feel like we have to take these games one at a time. And the sky's the limit."

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