Kendall Wright has yet to be seen during training camp.
The Tennessee Titans, though, saw enough of their first-round draft pick during offseason workouts that they look forward to his arrival, whenever that might be.
“Sometimes you draft a guy in the first round and he gets there, and you wonder why they did that,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “[With Wright] that was completely the opposite. He came in and looked phenomenal and I think we were wondering why he didn’t go earlier. He was really impressive.”
The wide receiver out of Baylor, selected 20th overall, is one of two first-round picks in the 2012 draft who has yet to sign a contract. The other is Jacksonville wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
The sides continue to haggle over whether or not the fourth year of his contract will be guaranteed. Last year’s 20th pick, cornerback Adrian Clayborn of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, got the guarantee for all four years but was the only one taken in the second half of the first round to do so. This year, once again, only the highest picks have gotten guarantees beyond the first three years.
Money for rookies at every spot is all but predetermined under a slotting system.
“I think for the most part [protracted negotiations with rookies are] going away in the NFL,” coach Mike Munchak said. “There’s not near as many of these situations as there have been. But hopefully ours will be taken care of soon.”
Wright is the fifth Titans’ first-round pick in the last six years to miss some time in training camp due to contract negotiations. Quarterback Jake Locker, last year’s top choice, was the lone exception.
The impact of Wright’s absence is enhanced by the fact that Kenny Britt is unable to participate in workouts due to a knee injury. That means two players expected to be among the top three wide receivers are out.
“We know Kendall is going to be a big part of this offense,” Munchak said “We feel he is from what we saw last month and we know at some point that he’ll be here. You know, ‘the sooner the better,’ so we leave it at that and hope we see him real soon.”
A rundown of how first-round picks fared during their rookie seasons after having missed time in training camp due to prolonged contract talks:
• Derrick Morgan (16th overall, 2010): He missed only one day, but during his first practice he re-injured a calf that had plagued him throughout the offseason. He missed the first half of the preseason and then played just four contests in the regular season before a knee injury ended his rookie campaign.
• Kenny Britt (30th overall, 2009): The wide receiver missed the first two days of training camp but ultimately played all 16 regular season contests — the only time he has done that in his career. He led the team with 85 yards and scored a touchdown in his first game and finished the season first on the team with 701 receiving yards on 42 carches.
• Chris Johnson (24th overall, 2008): His absence was brief and he served notice of what was to come when he led the team in rushing (182 yards on 33 carries, two touchdowns) and was second with seven receptions in the preseason. He made the first of three Pro Bowl appearances after he finished third in the AFC (eighth overall) with 1,228 rushing yards.
• Michael Griffin (19th overall, 2007): He completed his deal late on the first day of camp and was on the field the next. He played in all 16 games, started the final 10, made 49 tackles and tied for second on the team with three interceptions. His biggest impact was on special teams, where he made a team-high 16 tackles.
• Pacman Jones (sixth overall, 2005): It was nearly three weeks after the start of training camp before he finally came to terms. He started 13 games at cornerback (he played in 15) but failed to intercept a pass. He did rank among the NFL’s top 10 in both kickoff returns (fourth) and punt returns (10th).
• Albert Haynesworth (15th overall, 2002): Missed roughly the first week of camp, which amounted to 10 practices, then injured his right ankle in his first workout. Healthy for the start of the season, he played all 16 games, started the final three and recorded 23 quarterback pressures and seven tackles for loss, both of which were second on a defense that finished second in the NFL against the rush.