TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay’s porous secondary took another hit Monday when cornerback Eric Wright was suspended by the NFL for four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Wright is the second Tampa Bay starter disciplined for using Adderall. Cornerback Aqib Talib was suspended Oct. 13 for four games and subsequently traded to the New England Patriots while serving the ban.
“This a result of taking Adderall at the end of July for health issues I was experiencing,” the sixth-year pro said in a statement issued through his agent. “I am extremely disappointed that the suspension was upheld at my appeal.”
Wright signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Bucs as a free agent in March after spending four seasons with the Cleveland Browns and one with the Detroit Lions.
The 27-year-old started the first 10 games of the season before sitting out Sunday’s loss to Atlanta because of an Achilles tendon injury. He returned his only interception 60 yards for a touchdown to help Tampa Bay to a double-digit halftime lead on Eli Manning and the New York Giants in Week 2.
The Bucs (6-5) lead the league in rushing defense but are last against the pass, yielding 315.5 yards per game. With Talib no longer on the team and Wright sidelined by injury, coach Greg Schiano started former seventh-round draft pick E.J. Biggers and undrafted rookie free agent Leonard Johnson at cornerback during Sunday’s 24-23 loss to the Falcons.
Johnson was burned by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones on an 80-yard touchdown play, which accounted for a big chunk of Ryan’s 353 yards passing. Jones finished with six receptions for 147 yards.
Wright will be eligible to return to the team on Dec. 24, the day after the Bucs face the St. Louis Rams, and possibly could play in the team’s regular-season finale at Atlanta on Dec. 30.
The Bucs have won five of their last seven to climb back into playoff contention following a 1-3 start.
“I hope that he stays in condition so he can come back and participate,” Schiano said, adding that he doesn’t feel the suspensions of Wright and Talib signal there’s a problem with Adderall on the Buccaneers.
“This is a widespread issue throughout the National Football League right now. It’s certainly not Tampa-exclusive,” Schiano said.
“We educate our guys, we talk to them about it quite a bit,” the first-year coach added. “You do your best, then you’ve got to trust the guys that you brought here. … It’s like raising kids. It’s never going to be 100 percent. That’s for sure. But you do your best.”