Cardinals could find it difficult to replace Wright

Posted July 20, 2011 @ 4:23 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

One look at the Cardinals' crowded depth chart at running back with training camp apparently just around the corner would seem to indicate that Jason Wright's decision to retire after seven NFL seasons was far from earthshaking. But to say the 29-year-old Wright won't be missed after two years of very solid, serviceable football in the desert would be inaccurate.

"He was one of the team's best special-teams players and a really good role player who served as kind of a mentor for the Cardinals' younger running backs — Tim Hightower, and especially, Beanie Wells," said one team insider of Wright, a Northwestern graduate who will be attending the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago this fall instead of knocking heads on the football field. "I think they wouldn't have minded keeping him around, but apparently he has other things he wants to do with his life."

Perhaps Wright's most useful function was as the "up back" on kickoffs in front of the Cardinals' dynamic return ace, LaRod Stephens-Howling.

"He was responsible for a big part of LaRod's success," the insider said. "He was very smart and had a knack for knowing what other teams might try to do (in return situations). He was also a decent third-down back when called upon. He bailed the team out at fullback when injuries took their toll.

"He's not going to be all that easy to replace."