Wright to serve as a caution for teammates

Wright to serve as a caution for teammates
October 14, 2011, 6:44 pm
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FOXBORO -- Mike Wright had no idea how serious his concussion was when a Dolphins offensive lineman hit him in the side of the head in Week 1.

He came out of the game and felt a little off. Felt dizzy. He'd had concussions before, and this one wasn't debilitating. But he told team doctors anyway, and they decided to keep him out for the rest of the game. It was the last time he would play this year.

The Patriots defensive lineman was placed on injured reserve Thursday, ending his season.

"Something that minor, guys can go back in all the time," Wright said of the hit he took in Miami. "I'm very fortunate to have team doctors and trainers like that looking out for me."

Wright spoke with the media Friday to address his symptoms, his feelings now that he definitely won't return this season, and his future.

He had hoped to return to action in the next few weeks and even practiced last week before the Jets game, but his post-concussion syndrome didn't go away as steadily as he thought it might.

"I don't think it was anything with practice (last week) that made us come to this decision," Wright said. "It was after, and moving forward, kind of thinking I'll be back at this time and it wasn't getting better. It's probably just right to give it the amount of time it needs to fully heal as opposed to rushing back and making a mistake, taking a blow that I don't need to take."

Wright missed the final seven games of last season with a concussion, and he said the symptoms he's experienced this year are similar to what he felt last year, though not as severe. Watching television gave him a "motion sickness" type of feeling. Using his computer made him feel the same way.

"I have had some troubles," Wright said, "and that's why we are where we are."

Wright's loss is a blow to the Patriots. As a versatile, hard-working defensive lineman on a line that has undergone a lot of change since last season, his presence would have been welcome.

"He always wanted to do the right thing," said Bill Belichick. "Whether is was technique or defense or a special teams assignment that he had. He's very team oriented. Very professional. A good teammate. I just feel badly for him. The way these last two seasons have gone, he just hasn't had an opportunity to do the things he's worked so hard to do.

"It's really a medical decision," Belichick added. "We have to do what's right for him."

His teammates will miss him, too. Vince Wilfork, who played with Wright since Wright's rookie year in 2005, expressed his concern on Friday.

"Mike Wright is a great player, a great person," Wilfork said. "Health is always the number one question. You play this game, you have to be smart about it. Sometimes you can fight through pain, sometimes you can't. Only Mike knows what he can do.

"I'll definitely miss him on the field," Wilfork continued. "He's a guy that's been around here for a while, he played with me for a while. I always miss guys who I played with for a long time. He knows how I play, I know how he plays. But he'll still be with us. I just wish luck with everything that he's doing. Hopefully he can get back out there soon."

Wright said going on IR was the last thing he wanted to do, but now that he's there, he won't decide on his future in football until he confers with doctors after the season. In the meantime, he plans to be around the team as much as he can.

"I've got a of friends in the locker room, a lot of relationships that I'm not ready to move away from right now so I will be here in support," Wright said.

He'll also be a reminder to his peers to come clean about their concussions. In a culture that still sometimes encourages players to "shake it off," despite all the science that's emerged about concussions and all the emphasis the NFL has put on eliminating them from the game, Wright's presence will allow players to see what can happen if you have a history of head injuries.

"I hope they can listen," Wright said. "I'll be in the locker room. A lot of guys I know are coming up to me, and I'm definitely going to spread the word. Hopefully they can learn from my situation, and kind of hopefully help them move forward in their careers, and help them protect themselves."

You can follow Phil on Twitter at @PhilAPerry.