NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Things ramped up Monday with the Titans taking the field in full pads for the first time this training camp. Both sides of the football had their moments, but it's hard to miss the growing connection between quarterback Jake Locker and his top target Kendall Wright.
Locker found Wright on multiple occasions throughout practice. In the 1v1 drills, Wright blew by the coverage down the left sideline with Locker hitting him in stride for a long completion. Later in the team drills, Locker found Wright near the right sideline on a deep out. Wright made the catch and used some impressive footwork to keep both feet in bounds.
Titans Online looks at the NFL career of third-year wide receiver Kendall Wright (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
Wright has been a rising star since being drafted 20th overall in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. In 2013, Wright posted 94 catches, just seven behind Charley Hennigan's franchise record of 101. His work in the offseason has helped him continue to progress in 2014.
"Last year he was given the freedom to freestyle a little bit and this year he is asked to play a little more within the system, and he's done a great job with it," Titans QB Jake Locker said. "You can still see how explosive and how dynamic of a player he is even when he playing within those parameters."
Those parameters have been set by head coach Ken Whisenhunt and the new offensive system he's brought to the Titans in 2014. Whisenhunt has challenged his star receiver since the day he got here.
"I don't know that we've asked him to change," Whisenhunt said. "We've asked him to do what this offense dictates, and he's done that very well. I've been very impressed with Kendall (Wright), how he goes about his business.
"He's changed since when we first got in here, and I'm really excited to see what he's going to do for us this year," continued Whisenhunt. "He's matured a little bit. I think we've put more responsibility on him, maybe. I can't compare it, because I don't know (how he was) before. I've asked him to do some things, and he's responded well."
The challenges tasked to Wright went beyond the football field.
"Coach wanted me to weight in lighter than I was," said Wright. "It was just about going out in the offseason and working hard. Coach Whiz told me ever since the draft that I had a belly. It's something we'd always joked around about. It's getting better. I feel better as a player."
Wright came into the league at 197 pounds and worked his way all the way down to 184 pounds. He said he can already feel the difference when running his routes and with his improved overall speed.
"Now I'm rolling. I'm in much better shape and I appreciate Whiz for pushing me. The belly is gone – all the way gone," Wright said smiling.
Locker couldn't have been more complimentary of Wright's progress as a player and as a leader amongst the wide receivers.
"He's always been a talented player since the day he showed up here," Locker said. "You can just see the way he works that he's becoming a leader in that room. It's fun to see him take that step."
The third year receiver is someone who lets his play do the talking; his work ethic is something the entire Titans locker room has taken notice of.
"He's a guy that doesn't talk a whole lot but you can see his competitive spirit the way he plays the game," Locker said. "You watch him play the game and the emotion he plays the game with. He's just a football player. You can tell that and everyone in the locker room can tell that."
The word coachable can be an overused cliché, but it's one that's invaluable. Wright encompasses every aspect of being ready to learn and improve every day.
"However they tell me to do it that's what I'm going to do," said Wright. "I'm a receiver so I adjust to whatever they want me to do. I can play any position out there. He tells me he wants me to run a route a certain way then that's how I'm going to run it."
It was easy to see Wright's excitement to have Jake Locker as his quarterback in 2014. The two have yet to get a full season in together, but understand what they're capable of.
"I love going out there with Jake," Wright said complimenting his quarterback. "I came back early during the offseason and we worked out. I'm comfortable with Jake and if he sees anything that he wants done differently then I'll do it. Whatever makes Jake comfortable is going to be good with me."
And Kendall Wright making plays on Sundays is going to be good with Titans fans. The proposition of a healthy Jake Locker throwing to the ever-improving Wright should have fans seeing stars going into the upcoming season.