Camp Notebook: Titans, Wright Clear Hurdle


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Speed and quickness are physical abilities that stood out when the Titans drafted Kendall Wright in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Contract negotiations created a slight speed bump for both parties, but those were resolved Tuesday upon agreement of a four-year contract.

Wright is scheduled to arrive at Baptist Sports Park Wednesday for his first day of Titans training camp, which opened Friday. The team and Wright must adhere to rules in the collective bargaining agreement that will limit what Wright can do for his first three days as the rules did for all other players' first three days.

"Obviously we're excited that we don't have to talk about it any longer and hopefully can talk about the great things he's doing on the field," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "I think he's excited to finally be coming back in and getting to work and he loves the game, so I think he's happy the business side is over. That's a big plus."

Wright will condition and meet with coaches Wednesday and can practice without pads Thursday and Friday. The timing of the agreement works well, Munchak said, because players have their first scheduled off day of training camp Wednesday to recover from the first five days that included Tuesday's first practice in full pads. The Titans are scheduled to resume camp practices at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in a session that is free and open to the public.

Munchak and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said they will cautiously and gradually work Wright into the mix to reduce risk of injury, but they anticipate he will be able to participate in a closed practice Saturday at LP Field and a joint practice with the Atlanta Falcons in Dalton, Ga., that is free and open to fans from both teams on Monday.

"He can still participate on the field (Thursday and Friday) if we're out here with helmets on and doing individual work and things like that, but once we go to the padded part of practice, he will not be able to participate until Saturday," Munchak said. "On Saturday, when we go to the stadium, he can be 100 percent from then on. So, we just have to ease him in in that way like we did the rest of the players when they first started camp."

Palmer, who's been jokingly compared to a scientist in a lab this offseason, is highly pleased that such an explosive element will be added to Tennessee's offense, especially after how well Wright did during organized team activity practices in May and June and the team's mini-camp.

"Very excited to get Kendall in," Palmer said. "I saw him a week ago and he looked good. He was anxious to get everything completed. He'll be in tomorrow and we'll start working with him.

"I think that he'll be ready to go," Palmer added. "He went through the OTAs. He's a bright young man. He'll pick up right where he left off."

Munchak said Wright will spend a significant amount of time with receivers coach Dave Ragone Wednesday, but he was also encouraged by the work that Wright put in during the voluntary workouts.

"He's already been through it for seven or eight weeks with us, so he's got a good understanding of what we're doing already, which is a big plus," Munchak said. "He'll just have to come out and get back in shape, get back in football shape and have the pads on and get hit and all those things, but I don't imagine that's going to be a problem for him. This way, he's here for Saturday when we're at the stadium. He's here for Monday (against) Atlanta and the preseason, so he's going to have plenty of time to get a good feel for our offense."

QB COMPETITION CONTINUES: Despite at least one report Wednesday that claimed a decision had been made regarding the starting quarterback, the Titans have not made the decision between 14-year veteran Matt Hasselbeck and second-year pro Jake Locker.

"That guy knows more than I do, you know what I mean," Palmer said when asked about the report. "I can't say there is a favorite. I think that we're going to wait and see how things play out and whichever quarterback we determine gives us the best chance to win, that will be the guy we go with."

Palmer later added: "We can win with either guy. Having two quarterbacks on your team definitely helps you as far as that's concerned."

Hasselbeck and Locker have split reps this season with different groupings of players. Each received the ball for a two-minute drill Tuesday, and Hasselbeck ended his drive with a short touchdown pass to Nate Washington as time expired on the drill. Locker conducted his hurry-up possession with the Titans' second tier of players, and the drive stalled near the defense's 40-yard line.

Munchak said the entire offense needed to execute better, but added that the defense exerted increased pressure to thwart the possession.

"I think the one period with the two-minute drive (Locker) had, we had a lot of blitzes there," Munchak said. "We had some trouble with the protections, and it's a combination of things. That's why we always say we have to evaluate by what's around him, not just by where he was wrong or was the protection the problem, or receivers? There's a lot of issues there, so that's the things that we have to be aware of. Yeah, we were sloppy in that period. The whole group was in that period. You have to give credit to the defense and (defensive coordinator) Jerry (Gray) being aggressive and making plays."

Munchak said it's important for both quarterbacks to face challenges during the preseason to provide a more comprehensive evaluation.

"There's going to be highs and lows, just like there is in the season, and that's part of the evaluation to see how they both handle that," Munchak said. "These guys are being tested out here. This is not a vanilla defense they're seeing, which is exactly what we would want. That's why this stuff is more valuable than the preseason games to some extent because it's more complicated."

PRACTICE ISN'T ALWAYS PRETTY: Munchak, who is entering his second season as Titans head coach, said he is most enjoying the level of competition at practices, even if the intensity disrupts fluidity and aesthetics of the offense.  

"We're competing for the ball, we're competing at the line of scrimmage," Munchak said. "It's fun to watch, so I think that will help us become a better football team. We have to know that sometimes it's not going to look pretty. That's football, that's what competing looks like sometimes, and I think you want to see that on both sides of the ball."

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