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Ravens Keep A Fighter In Shareece Wright


Being a good NFL cornerback is all about having a short memory, about the ability to bounce back. After all, even the best cornerbacks get beaten for touchdowns.

About two weeks after what had to be one of the most trying moments of his football career, Shareece Wright stood up in front of his Ravens teammates and apologized.

Wright told his teammates he had let them down, and he promised he wouldn't do so again for the rest of the year.

Teammate and fellow cornerback Lardarius Webb couldn't believe Wright had done such a thing considering he was so new to the team. He told Wright it took real courage.

Wright did it because, at that moment, he felt he was at a crossroads in his career.

"I had to save my career, in a sense," he said. "It could have went either way."

Things have changed quickly since. Wright finished the year in strong fashion and, Monday, signed a three-year contract with the Ravens. Now he's going to be a big part of Baltimore's defense moving forward.

After four years with San Diego, the team that drafted him in the third round in 2011, Wright signed a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers last offseason. He quickly fell out of favor there, however, and didn't see a single snap.

Wright requested a trade or release and was eventually granted it after four weeks. He signed with the Ravens, and, as fate would have it, his first game was against his former team.

Wright surrendered four catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. He was toasted by former Raven turned 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith for the first score. It was about as rough a start as imaginable.

As Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said, many players would have complained about being thrown into the line of fire with only a few days to prepare. But Wright never said a word, and that "speaks volumes."

"I didn't complain, and I stood up," Wright said. "That game wasn't who I was, and I just wanted to let my team know who I am and what I stand for as a football player."

Wright turned around his performances as he learned the Ravens defense and adjusted to their techniques. It didn't take long.

"He's what we're all about," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Nobody works harder. Nobody is more dedicated to his craft. Nobody spends more time watching tape. Nobody cares more about doing things the right way, in terms of how hard he plays.

"Paying attention to detail and technique, he does that as well as any corner I've been around in all these years in the National Football League."

After giving up 132 passing yards in that first game, Wright allowed just 256 passing yards in the following 10 games, according to Pro Football Focus. His best game may have been in Cleveland, where he was targeted 12 times and yielded just three catches for 20 yards. Wright finished the year starting seven games with 40 tackles and five passes defensed.

Wright's insertion into the starting lineup opposite his high school teammate and best friend, Jimmy Smith, also started a turnaround for the entire secondary.

After struggling the first half of the year, the Ravens allowed the fewest passing yards per game in the league (183.3) over the second half of the season. The defense as a whole surrendered the second-fewest yards (291.1) per game in the second half.

"That guy right there," Pees said, pointing credit Wright's way. "He's probably the most consistent, or one of the most consistent, players that we had on defense, especially the second half of the year after he got here."

Now Wright gets to build on what he's started with the Ravens, alongside his buddy Smith. The two are such good friends that Wright was celebrating at the Ravens' postgame Super Bowl XLVII party as a guest of Smith's.

When Wright was let go by the 49ers, Smith lobbied him hard to come to Baltimore. There were 10 other teams calling for Wright's services.

Now the two are, for now, penciled in as the team's two starting cornerbacks with Webb moving to free safety. The Ravens could still select a cornerback early in the draft, but whoever is added from this point on will have to beat out Wright for a starting spot.

"He's just the kind of guy that we want to continue to build our defense with," Harbaugh said.

"It just helps us on our defensive scheme tremendously to have him back, along with some of the other corners and guys that we've had," Pees added. "So, hopefully we can start next year the way we ended this last year on defense. [That] is what we're looking for."

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