BEREA, Ohio — Don’t tell Eric Wright he’s not the starting cornerback for the Browns.
Some thought when the Browns traded for Sheldon Brown and drafted Joe Haden that the Browns were sending a message to last year’s starters — Wright and Brandon McDonald — that they needed to step up their play.
Haden and Brown are more physical against the run than Wright and McDonald, but that doesn’t phase Wright.
“I’ve started since I was a rookie,” Wright said. “I’m looking to start this year because I’m a competitor. It’s an open competition and you want to win. It’s going to be what it is.”
The Browns traded up to the second-round (53rd overall) of the 2007 draft to select Wright. He has started 45 of the 46 games he’s played in his career with the Browns, including all 16 at left cornerback in 2009.
“I have never heard anything about me being a third guy, or about me being a second guy or a first guy,” he said. “It’s competition and we have a great group of guys.
“It has always been that way” he said. “Everybody has a positive attitude, everybody is team oriented and everybody is just looking to go out here and compete and win a job. That’s just the way we go about our business. That is what’s going to make us better as a team.”
Wright has been on and off the practice field with an injury to his leg, but he is hoping to play against the Rams in the preseason home opener Saturday.
“I’m just working my way back,” he said. “I feel pretty good. It feels better. I like to compete and I like to get out there and play against some other people.
“I’m still working toward (playing Saturday),” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to compete with my teammates. I’d love to be out there with my teammates.”
Wright says he’s not one to let an injury keep him out.
“I think people kind of know how I operate,” he said. “I did play two days after a severe car crash, so that tells you about me playing.”
Some felt Wright had his best season last year when he had 65 tackles and a career-best four interceptions.
“I thought Eric elevated his game last season,” Eric Mangini said. “He ended up being the closer in answering questions in the team meetings. He has really embraced that role. He has been working in the slot and he wanted to go in there and work on that. That growth I’ve seen in him has been great.”
Wright thinks with the additions of Brown and Haden to go along with McDonald, the Browns are pretty deep at cornerback.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “It’s been great. Guys are picking each other up and definitely gelling together nicely as a unit. It’s real exciting. We have a great group of guys that want to learn and just continue to grow and get better. It’s an exciting time for us.”
During the final four games of the 2009 season in which the Browns won, the defense played pretty well.
“I think it’s carried over a lot,” Wright said. “We have a lot of confidence in what we’re doing as a defense and as a team in general. We know how things operate and we know how things go. We know that we can be successful in doing what we’re doing out here so it definitely helps a lot.”
Off the Field Again: For the third time in three weeks, Eric Mangini gave the team a break from practice on the field. The team had meetings but there was no media availability. The Browns will return to the practice field for two practices on Thursday at 8:45-10:45 am and then again at 5:45-7:45 pm. These are the last two practices open to the public.