Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/Editor, TitansOnline.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Titans receiver Kendall Wright has turned into a perfectionist, and it’s one of the reasons his 2015 season is off to such a fast start.
Wright, in his fourth NFL season, caught four passes for 101 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s season-opening win over the Buccaneers. He scored the game’s first touchdown when he caught a slant across the middle, and raced 52 yards into the end zone.
The play was all about timing, and Wright is all about getting it right.
“My mindset this season is to do everything exactly right. Not just right, but exactly right,’’ said the former first-round pick. “I want to do what I can to be in the right spot for Marcus (Mariota). And I want to do things exactly how the coach wants it run.”
Wright, who had a career-high 1,079 yards in his second NFL season, saw his stats decline a year ago, when he had 37 fewer catches than the previous year, and 364 fewer yards. Some of the drop-off could be attributed to the fact he missed two games with an injury. The Titans also had instability at quarterback, rotating between Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst and Zach Mettenberger.
Nonetheless, Wright showed up this offseason with a different mindset.
His coaches have noticed.
“In my opinion, Kendall believes in what we are doing and he has bought in to where he has to be and all the different things that he can do in this offense,’’ coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “He is playing fast, he is getting in the right spots, and he is getting open. I think it has been outstanding to see.”
Even before the start of the season, Titans receivers coach Shawn Jefferson predicted a lethal combination with Wright and Mariota. Throughout the offseason and in training camp, the two combined for one big play after the next.
“He seems to be one of Marcus Mariota’s guys,’’ Jefferson said. “Kendall has dropped weight, and what Kendall has done this offseason is he got into the playbook and he is really understanding the fine details of the playbook and how important it is for him to be at the right place at the right time. Because we have a young quarterback that is really accurate and will get him the ball.”
Wright is part of a receiving corps that also features veteran Harry Douglas, third-year player Justin Hunterand rookie Dorial Green-Beckham.
On a day when Mariota threw for 209 yards and four touchdowns, Wright and Douglas each had TD grabs in the win over the Bucs. Tight end Delanie Walker had a touchdown in Tampa Bay, and so did running back Bishop Sankey.
Wright believes the receiving corps should set the tone on offense this fall.
“We already call ourselves the strength of the offense, because we think we are, and we’ll take the blame for everything. The ball is going to move it if we move it,’’ Wright said.
“We want the pressure. We obviously have a good quarterback, good backs, good tight ends, but we definitely feel like we’re the strong point of the offense and we have to show it.”
Wright also thinks he’s in a good position to succeed.
He feels he has a unique connection with Mariota because he’s played in an offense with a similar quarterback – Robert Griffin III, his college teammate at Baylor.
“My connection with Marcus, I’ve played with quarterbacks like him before, guys who can run and are accurate and have the ability to make plays with their legs and keep plays alive longer. It is easy for me to play with a guy like that,’’ Wright said. “You just have to always be moving and get to the right spot. He is really accurate and if you get to the right spot, it’s going to work.
“Marcus, I don’t think he really has ‘a guy,’ though. I think he dishes it out to everybody, throws to everybody. So you have to be ready.”