Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Wright hopes to use experience to help Bucs get a ring

TAMPA -- Tim Wright and Logan Mankins played a game of trading places last year.

Wright came out on the better end, winning a Super Bowl ring with New England while Mankins, a six-time Pro Bowl offensive guard with the Patriots, got stuck with the 2-14 Buccaneers.

Now they are both with Tampa Bay after the Patriots released Wright.

A tight end, Wright caught six TD passes last year -- but was seldom used after the Pats' Rob Gronkowski got healthy.

Wright is one of four Bucs who own a Super Bowl ring, joining Evan Smith, Clinton McDonald and Bobby Rainey.

One of the biggest things he learned with the Patriots was going out there every day and optimizing the job, putting the team first and himself second.

"Just any way you could contribute and get that edge, that's what it's all about," the three-year pro said.

Wright wasn't necessarily surprised he was waived by the Patriots.

"You know, it's the business. You can't control that. Whatever opportunity you get, you've just got to take advantage of it," he said.

The 6-4, 220-pound Wright was a free agent wide receiver out of Rutgers. Former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano was responsible for converting him to a tight end.

Wright was the Bucs' second-leading receiver in 2013. The next season, new head coach Lovie Smith drafted tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Badly in need of an offensive guard, Tampa Bay later shipped Wright to New England for Mankins.

Wright said he learned a lot from the Patriots, and seemed to put that knowledge to work early with an outstanding performance in the Bucs' first day of mandatory minicamp this week -- drawing raves from quarterback Jameis Winston. He gives the Bucs a big, athletic tight end who can cause problems, particularly with linebackers in coverage.

"You just have to come to work every day. You can never relax. Every day you can get better," Wright said. "If you're not trying to get better, obviously you'll get worse. it's going out there and contributing and doing your job."

Smith said he couldn't hide his excitement when he saw Wright on the waiver wire and didn't hesitate to put in a claim, knowing the Buccaneers' tight-ends caught a combined two touchdown passes last year.

"That was an easy decision to make on Tim.," Smith said. "We liked him then. We decided to go in a different direction, but where we are right now, we are stronger football team with Tim on our team. It's good to see him back."

Smith enjoyed a welcome sight this week when offensive tackle Demar Dotson showed up for minicamp. He missed the Bucs' voluntary offseason training activities in a failed attempt to renegotiate this contract.

Dotson is slated to earn $2.5 million this year, which is well under the market for offensive tackles, but he was a starter for one of the worst offensive lines in football last season.

Dotson erred in thinking the Bucs would change their stance on not negotiating with players who aren't working with the team.

"I don't want to lose any money. It's like, $100,000, and I got some advice that you don't want to lose that money," Dotson said.

A Lovie-ly holiday

When the players arrived for what they thought would be the third and final day of mandatory minicamp, they were greeted with a surprise.

Schools out. Get your bowling shoes.

"I just felt this was a perfect ending to a great offseason," Smith said through the Bucs' website. "We haven't had a chance to do any team-building, so this is good to get the guys away from the football field and in a different environment."

Despite NFL coaches continually complaining they don't get enough practice time, quite a few take one of the offseason training days and turn it into a bonding event.

"This is great because sometimes it's good to see people comfortable," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "People are not always comfortable at work because you've got your job on the line, coaches are watching you, you've got practice and you don't want to mess up."