SAN DIEGO -- For Shareece Wright, practice makes perfect.
And 2013 has been the USC product’s most extensive opportunity to perfect his craft as a starting cornerback in the NFL.
So it’s no surprise that Wright’s play improved during the second half of the season. A third-round selection by the Chargers in the 2011 draft, Wright started a career-high 13 games during the regular season. In 755 snaps, Wright finished with 55 tackles, eight pass breakups and an interception.
“I’m a lot more comfortable,” Wright said. “Just getting that experience, getting a lot of reps -- the more you play and the more you practice, the better you get.”
Wright was limited to backup duty due to injuries and inexperience his first two season in the NFL. However, this season Wright’s dealt with lingering hamstring and foot issues and still managed to play on Sundays.
Chargers secondary coach Ron Milus said Wright’s ability to play through pain and still be effective shows his development.
“He is growing,” Milus said. “And this is the first year he’s got a chance to play a lot. Even when you go back to his college days, he didn’t play a lot. And then we got here, he’s been injury prone.
“So is he dealing with some nagging stuff? Yeah. But he’s been able to be there for the most part for most of the games, so that’s helped him.”
Wright will have his hands full on Sunday, trying to keep up with a physical, big target on the perimeter in Denver’s Demaryius Thomas.
In the first matchup against Denver, a 28-20 win for the Broncos, Thomas torched Wright and the Chargers, finishing with seven receptions for 108 yards and three touchdowns.
But in the second matchup in Denver, Thomas was held to four catches for 45 yards. Wright said the difference in his play in the second half of the season has been making the play at that moment of truth -- when the ball is up in the air and either the receiver is going to catch it, or the corner hauls it in for an interception.
“It’s just making the plays,” said Wright, who had an interception against Cincinnati last week. “A couple times I had opportunities and got my hands on the ball earlier, and I just didn’t catch it. Now, I’m just catching the ball, and the scheme is putting me in position to make plays.”
Milus echoed Wright’s sentiments, saying that mindset goes for the rest of the secondary.
“I don’t know if it’s always been blown assignments,” Milus said, when asked about his unit's inconsistent play in the first half of the season. “Early in the year we just didn’t make the play. They knew they were guarding that guy, but it wasn’t our turn to make our play. So I think right now, especially in the last month, we’ve made our share of our plays.
“And those are the words I use with our guys -- you’ve got to make your play. If you get four or five opportunities during the game, you’ve got to win on a majority of those opportunities.”