Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 10/29/12
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Rookie receiver Jarius Wright wakes up on Minnesota Vikings' game days wondering if he will finally be in the lineup during the regular season for the first time in his NFL career. It's been eight weeks and Wright is still waiting for the call, the chance he's been waiting for to play a role for Minnesota after being a fourth-round draft pick by the team in April. Meanwhile, Wright keeps working, trying to be ready when his shot comes. Monday he worked well after practice working on his routes with backup quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, another weekly inactive, throwing him passes. Wright has been on the active 53-man roster all season, but has been inactive on game days. "I just wake up each Sunday morning and hope I'm active," Wright said Monday, with the Vikings (5-3) starting the second half of their schedule. "My day is coming. I really believe that. I'm just going to wait patiently." Being patient has been tough on Wright, the first of three picks in the fourth round by Minnesota, No. 118 overall. He isn't used to sitting on the sidelines. He was a prep star in Arkansas before playing all but one game during his four-year career at the University of Arkansas. Part of a Razorbacks receiving corps that had three players drafted by NFL teams this year including another Minnesota fourth-round pick, Greg Childs Wright was the team's leading receiver last year with 66 catches for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns. He played in 12 games his freshman year at Arkansas. He finished with school records of 168 career catches and 2,934 career receiving yards. But his transition to the NFL has not come as quickly. Wright was unavailable the first two weeks because of an ankle injury he sustained in the preseason finale. Now healthy, he's still waiting for his shot even though he says it's a "night and day turnaround" from the unsure rookie he was early in training camp and the preseason. "I'm 85 to 90 percent a different player, just from the beginning of the season to now, just seeing guys go out there and play and seeing defenses and seeing how guys move and everything," Wright said. "Even though it is from the sideline, it's definitely helped me get more comfortable and more equipped to the game." Meanwhile, the Vikings are still looking for something from the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Wright. His time might be getting closer though. "I like the things that Jarius is doing," coach Leslie Frazier said. "We had some of the things we did today in practice, he got a lot of reps. He's kept his head in it as far as what we're doing on offense. He's working hard on special teams. He's still improving as a punt returner. I think he's about where we need him to be. We feel like when the time comes for him to step in, he'll be able to do a good job for us." As the passing game has struggled in recent weeks, Wright is still on the sideline. Frazier, who earlier this season insisted Wright's rookie season wouldn't be left solely to develop on the side, said theirs isn't anything specific left for Wright to show the coaches in order to get on the field. "I think he just has to continue to improve and keep working hard like he's been doing in practice," Frazier said. "I don't know if there's anything more that he has to do, but he's improving. He's come a long ways." Wright, with his speed and stature, was likened a bit to star receiver Percy Harvin early in the offseason. Harvin believes Wright's progression has been in some ways, similar to what he went through as a rookie. But Harvin played 15 games as a rookie an had 60 catches for 790 yards and was an explosive kickoff returner. Wright was expected to carve out a role as a punt returner, but Harvin's presence likely limits some of Wright's opportunities in the passing game due to Wright's size and similarity of the routes the two can run. "He's coming," Harvin said. "When he first came in, a lot of routes, as I was when I came here, he was used to breaking flat instead rounding it, speed cutting. Little things, any little step you can get on a defender you open; I don't think he was quite used to that coming here. But he's been doing a heck of a job." The last time Wright was active on a game day was that preseason finale. He hauled in six catches for 122 yards that game, including a big 59-yard touchdown catch. Wright says he's healthy, and he'll be ready when called upon. But even he's not sure when that call will come. In the meantime, he'll continue his extra work on the sideline and wait his turn, believing the final step can only come being on that active list on game days and getting playing time. "I play football with a lot of passion, so not being out there and not being able to help the team from the field point of view is a lot different," Wright said. "Mentally I think I have developed a lot. I think there is still some mentally I can develop. I think that's only going to come with playing on the field and getting reps." Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
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