In a span of four years, Kendall Wright regressed from leading the Titans with 94 receptions in 2013 to falling completely out of Tennessee’s wide receiver rotation by the end of the 2016 season.
To hear Wright tell it, the Titans‘ coaching staff is to blame for failing to understand that he remains every bit the player he was at the height of his powers.
“What motivates me the most is I probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year and I was playing like 10 plays a game,” Wright said Tuesday, via Pro Football Weekly. “That’s how it goes.”
Not including his Week 17 deactivation, Wright averaged 18 plays per game, per Next Gen Stats. Although his 133 receiving yards versus the Browns‘ ramshackle secondary in Week 6 stood as the high-water mark for Tennessee receivers, the 2012 first-round pick couldn’t bypass rookie Tajae Sharpe for a starting job the rest of the way.
When pressed for an explanation of his limited role, Wright responded, “That’s a question I can’t [answer]. Ask them. They’ll feel it after this year.”
Absent an explanation from the Titans‘ decision-makers, we can decipher a few clues as to Wright’s 2016 demotion.
NFL coaches are fond of pointing out that the most important ability is availability. Since Mike Mularkey assumed control in early November of the 2015 season, Wright has missed extensive time with knee, rib and hamstring injuries. Perhaps more problematic, his penchant for freelancing on routes was deemed no longer acceptable once the team upgraded the talent surrounding promising young quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Earning a Week 14 benching for tardiness certainly didn’t help his case.
“It’s not for every player, the way we do things here,” Mularkey said of Wright’s late-season disappearance.
Is Mularkey bound to feel the 27-year-old’s absence as acutely as Wright assumes?
Since allowing Wright to leave for Chicago, the Titans have devoted early-round draft picks to a pair of intriguing size/speed prospects in Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. The rookies might be eased in, though, as the organization is currently recruiting former Jets star Eric Decker to team with Sharpe and Rishard Matthews.
If that’s the case, Wright is confident in his ability to fill Alshon Jeffery‘s shoes as the top target.
“I haven’t lost a step like people might think,” Wright insisted. “I can go out there and do as well as anyone out there.”