clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

James Wright talks road to recovery; gets support from Jeremy Hill

James Wright is finally back on the football field after more than a year recovering and rehabbing from two knee surgeries.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Cincinnati Bengals v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

20 months came and went since the time James Wright was last on a football field in a fully-padded session.

November 30th of 2014 was the day Wright suffered a knee injury in a win over the Buccaneers, a game in which he made several big catches to secure a 14-13 win. It came at a cost, however, as Wright would undergo two surgical procedures over the next year that nearly derailed his NFL career.

Heading into last year, Wright was believed to be fully recovered from the PCL injury that prematurely ended his 2014 season. But little did we know, Wright’s knee wasn’t healing properly and he’d need microfracture surgery, ending his 2015 season before it began. The PCL and microfracture procedures essentially cost Wright what would have been his second full season.

It wasn't until August 1st of 2016 that Wright was finally cleared to resume full football activities.

"I would say it’s a little tougher for a receiver," Wright said via of the difference between himself and Vontaze Burfict coming back from the microfracture surgery. "You’re running and cutting more and running longer.”

Monday's fully-padded practice inside Paul Brown Stadium was the first time in almost two years that Wright got to practice alongside his teammates. While it was a great moment for Wright, he knows it's just one step toward getting back to full health and picking up where he left off in his NFL career.

"It’s a small step, but a big step for me because I’m back to football," Wright said. "But in the grand scheme, it’s a small step."

Regardless of whether or not Wright ever plays another down of football, just getting to this point is an inspiration to Bengals running back and former LSU teammate Jeremy Hill.

"When you know that you might not have a chance to play again, words can’t say how much it means for him to be here now," Hill said Monday. "It’s an inspiration to me. It lets me know that I’m blessed. I can’t go out there and complain about anything. I’m excited for the opportunity he has in front of him."

Going back to that Week 13, 2014 game against the Buccaneers, Wright caught three receptions for 59 yards (19.7 average) with a long of 30 to help Cincinnati score a critical road win. He looked poised to become a reliable offensive weapon, something the Bengals could really use now two years later.

“I never had to miss a whole season,” Wright said of the difficulty in missing all of 2015, via “I had to get used to it, but knowing I would be able to get back out there eventually definitely drove me through my rehab. I’m just glad today finally came. It felt like forever.”

Though he can't say how close he is to being 100 percent back, Wright feels he's in a spot where he can make the roster and make an impact for the Bengals.

“I don’t know what percent I am,” Wright said. “I’ve got everything back I need to have as a receiver.”

Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones' departure will lead to new receivers taking on big roles in the Bengals offense. Wright could be one of them with a big showing in camp and the preseason, but his biggest impact would come on special teams if he makes the final roster. Either way, it’s great to see Wright back in action!