'Clutch' nicknames fit Vikings' Jarius Wright to a 'T'
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Jarius Wright's clutch play has earned him several nicknames from teammates.
The Vikings wide receiver doesn't catch a lot of passes, but the ones he does grab really seem to count. Of Wright's 14 receptions this season, nine have been for first downs and two for touchdowns. Five catches have resulted in a third-down conversion.
Wright caught three passes for 18 yards in the Vikings' 14-9 victory over the Falcons on Sunday in Atlanta. Two went for first downs, with one being a third-down conversion.
"Mr. Jarius Wright, we call him Mr. Third Down," fellow receiver Stefon Diggs said after the game. "He does some great things when he gets the ball in his hands. He gets us conversions, we convert, try to keep the ball moving and sustain drives."
Wright said Monday, Dec. 4, that teammates also call him "Mr. Clutch." Then quarterback Teddy Bridgewater walked by and said he calls him "Mr. Efficient."
"I've been thinking about getting some T-shirts made," said Wright, a six-year veteran. "Then I'll put all (the nicknames) on them. I think they're pretty good names. I think they all kind of describe me, for sure. ... I make the most out of every opportunity."
Wright caught 42 passes for the Vikings in 2014, earning him a four-year, $14.8 million contract extension in September 2015. He had 34 receptions in 2015.
He didn't play much last year, catching just 11 passes in eight games. Although he still hasn't gotten the playing time this season he did in previous seasons, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer hasn't hesitated to put him on the field in important situations.
"Whenever he gets the opportunity to go in, he knows all the receiver positions," Zimmer said. "He's just a guy that loves to go out there and get a chance to play, and when he does, he usually makes a play."
Vikings' run defense
The Vikings played one of their best defensive games of the season, holding the Falcons to 275 yards total offense, their lowest output of the season. Still, Zimmer saw room for improvement.
Atlanta rushed 22 times for 102 yards, well above the 75.5 yards per game on the ground Minnesota had been giving up. Zimmer, who calls the Vikings' defensive plays, said he could have done better getting his players in the right spots.
"I didn't do a very good job in some of the things to help them in some of those," Zimmer said. "We had to make some changes here and there. Our guys take a lot of pride in playing the run, and it wasn't as good (Sunday)."
Minnesota remains second in the NFL in rushing defense with a 77.7-yard average.
The Vikings entered Monday second in the league in scoring defense and second in total defense. They haven't finished a season in the top two in scoring defense since 1988 (second) and in total defense since 1993 (first).
Right tackle Mike Remmers could be ready to return after missing four consecutive games.
Remmers sat out the first three with a concussion, and he missed the Falcons game with a lower back injury. Remmers has been replaced each time by Rashod Hill, who indicated Monday that Remmers might be back in the lineup Sunday at Carolina.
"I think Mike's pretty healthy, ready to go back," Hill said of Remmers, who played for the Panthers from 2014-16. "Whatever they need me to do, I'll do what I can do."
Zimmer praised Hill, who primarily played left tackle until being called into duty when Remmers suffered a concussion Oct. 29 on the first series against Cleveland.
The Vikings lost tight end David Morgan on the first series at Atlanta with a concussion. Zimmer said Monday he's doing "a lot better" but didn't speculate on his status for this weeks game.