Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees talks about the red zone defense and what to expect playing the Redskins. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)
Two days after getting beaten by Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree for two of Crabtree's three touchdown catches – including the eventual game-winner in Sunday's 28-27 loss – Ravens cornerback Shareece Wright got a phone call from former Southern California teammate Terrell Thomas.
The former New York Giants cornerback commiserated with Wright and encouraged him to bounce back. That conversation and subsequent talks with current teammates reaffirmed to Wright that he can overcome his recent stretch of struggles.
"Yeah, it's frustrating," the sixth-year pro said after Thursday's practice. "You don't know why. It's just one of those things where you've just got to respond well and just be positive about it and don't lose that confidence. It's not a physical thing where I can't play or I can't run. It's not like I can't play or I'm not good enough. It's just more of a mental mentality and just being in the moment, being in the situation like in a game where it's a critical situation."
After surrendering five touchdowns in his last three starts, Wright has become the most scrutinized member of the Ravens secondary. He ranks third on the team in tackles with 21 and has broken up two passes, but fans and media members have focused on him as their primary target for criticism.
Wright said he tends to block out the negativity, but said he actually prefers "the hate" to help identify who truly supports him.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees defended Wright, saying every member of the defense was complicit in failing to stop the Raiders on that game-winning touchdown drive."
"It's easy to criticize guys on the back end on coverage because those are always the last guys that you see," Pees said Thursday. "But yeah, he's got to improve, we all got to improve. We have to do a better job maybe not putting him in as tough situations. It's across the board."
Wright insisted that his confidence remains high, and fellow cornerback Jimmy Smith, Wright's best friend since their playing days at Colton High School in Southern California, said the only change in Wright that he has noticed is an uptick in his performance at practice this week.
"He had a heck of a day today at practice," Smith said. "Sometimes that's what happens when a fire gets lit underneath you. You perform. I think today at practice, he showed that. The door's not closed on him. He's showing what he can do."
With teammates such as Will Davis and rookie Tavon Young waiting in the wings, Wright knows that he can't continue to struggle and hold onto his starting job.
"You open up the door for that when you're giving up plays like that, and you're just hoping they don't lose that hope in you," he said. "The great thing about it is, I've been through this before, and I've proven that I can overcome things like this. As long as they don't give up on me, I'm not going to give up on myself or this team."