Chicago Bears

Clash with former coaches doesn’t change Kendall Wright’s confidence

Clash with former coaches doesn’t change Kendall Wright’s confidence

Kendall Wright is out to make sure the Tennessee Titans regret not only letting him leave, but for barely using him in 2016.

The 27-year-old, who signed a one-year deal with the Bears in March, isn’t sure why he was only targeted 42 times last year. But that lack of usage didn’t ding his confidence and only fueled his motivation to show his former team how wrong he thinks they were.

“Everything motivates me,” Wright said. “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.”

In 2013 — his second year in the league — Wright caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards. It was a breakout year for a guy the Titans drafted 20th overall in 2012, but the Baylor product wasn’t able to build on that success.

Wright’s targets and receptions declined for three consecutive years, going from 93 and 57 in 2014 to 60 and 36 in 2015 to 42 and 29 a year ago. Part of the reason for that decline was a spate of injuries — hamstring, knee, ribs, MCL, hand, ankle, shoulder — but he also clashed with the Titans’ coaching staff toward the end of his time in Nashville. Wright was a healthy scratch for Tennessee’s final game of 2016 and was benched in Week 14 due to tardiness and missed meetings.

“I don’t read anything,” Wright said. “You hear it, you see stuff everywhere, but I don’t really get on my social media and stuff like that because I could care less what anybody has to say.”

The Bears play at Tennessee in Week 3 of preseason play, though Wright isn’t putting any added emphasis on a game that won’t really count for anything. The better way for him to show the Titans how they screwed up would be to produce against everyone else during the regular season.

“They’ll feel it after this year,” Wright said. “They’ll feel some type of way after they see.”  

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

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USA Today Sports Images

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

Sunday will mark Kendall Wright’s first trip back to Nashville since he not-so-amicably split with the Tennessee Titans after the 2016 season. 

Wright has said he doesn’t want to talk about his time in Tennessee, where injuries and clashes with coaches led to a steady decline in targets and production after a standout 2013 season (139 targets, 94 receptions, 1,079 yards). But it’s easy to compare how he feels practicing with the Bears to how he felt toward the end of his days with the Titans. 

“A fresh start is good,” Wright said. “Football is fun again. 

“If you don’t have fun playing the game, what the use of you playing? And I didn’t really have too much fun the past few years. But when you’re out here playing and doing what you love to do, it’s fun. So you just gotta keep the game fun.”

Wright was a little more forceful earlier this year. 

“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 during OTAs in June. 

But while this weekend’s game against the Titans could seem to be an opportunity for revenge, Wright is more approaching it for what it is — another preseason game to continue to improve with the rest of the first team offense. 

Wright caught a touchdown from  Glennon Saturday night in Arizona (he also was the target on Glennon’s interception, though that looked to be more on the quarterback than the receiver). And he seems to be clearly ahead of Victor Cruz to be the team’s No. 1 slot receiver — Cruz wasn’t targeted against Arizona, while Wright received three targets. 

If the Glennon-led first-team offense is going to have success in the regular season, it needs improvements from every unit — quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and offensive line — based on what we’ve seen during the preseason. Perhaps a motivated, fun-having Wright, playing for the same offensive coordinator under which he had his best season, can be a part of that. 

“The game of football is supposed to be fun,” Wright said. “Don’t take the fun out of it. You just gotta go out there and have fun and make plays. When you’re making plays, it’s even more fun.” 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: John Fox hasn't decided who will get first-team QB reps on Sunday

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: John Fox hasn't decided who will get first-team QB reps on Sunday

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Phil Rogers (MLB.com) and Anthony Herron (670 The Score) join Kap on the panel. 

John Fox hasn’t decided who will get reps with the first-team in Sunday’s all-important third preseason game? Could Mitch Trubisky get a look with the ones?

Javy Baez hustles and scores the winning run for the Cubs. Is his the most entertaining athlete in Chicago? Plus will Nicky Delmonico still be on the White Sox in a few years when they are ready to contend for the postseason?

Listen to the full epidsode here