NASHVILLE, Tenn. Learning a new offense must be time-consuming for Kendall Wright, the second-year Tennessee Titans wide receiver. So much so that he didnt even realize his former Baylor teammate Heisman Trophy winner and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffith III was getting married.
That impending matrimony has made national news recently after fans tapped into the wedding registry and began sending the future newlyweds a variety of gifts. It even prompted RG III to tell fans thanks but no thanks, but the gifts are still coming.
He might even get one from Wright, who teamed with the versatile quarterback to drive opposing college defenses crazy before they were selected in the first round RGIII at No. 2 and Wright at No. 20 in last years NFL Draft.
I didnt even know he is getting married, Wright said Tuesday following an OTA (organized team activity) at the teams practice facility. I havent talked to him. Hell text me.
But of that gift, Wright said he will give it some thought, if he can work it in while participating in the teams current six-week training program. Much of that time for Wright and fellow offensive teammates will be spent learning a new offense being implemented by first-year offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, the teams former quarterbacks coach.
Im not sure if I will go to the wedding, Wright said of his college buddy reportedly getting married on July 6. I will get him a gift, if he is serious about it.
These days, Wright is most serious about building on a rookie season that saw him lead the Titans and tie for the NFL lead among first-year wide receivers with 64 receptions. More succinctly, Wright would like to use his elusive skills once he catches the ball to increase production on yards after the catch.
Catch the ball first and then run after the catch, Wright said of improving on the 9.8 yards per catch that produced only 626 yards with four touchdowns. That compared to 15.4 yards per catch he posted as a senior at Baylor.
Once I catch it, I know I can do a lot of things after the catch, he added. That is one of my personal emphases. I just want to go catch the ball and then go instead of trying to make the move without catching it. It just doesnt work like that.
Through free agency and the draft, the Titans have gathered a deep and talented wide receivers corps. Fifth-year Kenny Britt, a former first-round draft pick and potential game breaker when healthy, is expected to return completely healed from a knee injury that sidelined him last season.
Also returning is veteran Nate Washington. Plus, the Titans drafted former University of Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter in the second round last month and also signed 10-year veteran wide receiver Kevin Walter through free agency.
With Britt, Washington and Hunter able to stretch the field, the Titans expect Wright to become even more of a playmaker underneath from the slot position. There, he can catch short passes from third-year quarterback Jake Locker and gain yardage from a variety of looks.
I dont think for us it is a focus on trying to increase that number, Locker said of improving Wrights yards after the catch average, but just find the ways to get the ball into his hands. When you do that, you have seen how explosive he is when he catches the ball on short routes and turns it into big plays with yards after catch.
Locker emphasized the new offense will utilize all the weapons available, including the expanded receiving corps, the change of pace provided at running back between shifty Chris Johnson and powerful free agent signee Shonn Greene, and the addition of veteran tight end Delanie Walker via free agency.
It allows not only myself, but a lot of guys on offense to use what theyre good at, Locker said of the new offensive philosophy. There is a way (to increase Wrights production). Those numbers begin to climb. You just try to find ways to get him the football in space and let him do what he does best, and thats be a football player.
Also part of the learning curve for Wright and Titans receiving cronies is the addition of new wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, who held the same job with the Detroit Lions the past five years. He replaces former Titans wide receivers coach Dave Ragone, now the quarterbacks coach.
Lets just say there is a distinct difference in the coaching styles of the new position coach compared to the previous one, a former University of Louisville and Houston Texans quarterback.
All the receivers like it, Wright said of Jeffersons coaching demeanor. I mean, hes in our face. Hes just bringing a different passion to the field.
When you see him out there, hes out there in his cleats running routes, doing the same things we are doing. Hes always serious. When you step onto the field with him, its straight football, and thats it.
Plus, Wright is now a year older and wiser. Many coaches claim the largest learning leap in the NFL comes in a players second season.
Coming in last year, I didnt know any plays or any players, Wright said. Now, I am learning the plays easier and I know everybody, so I am not nervous or anything. I just can go out there and be myself and ask questions if I need help.