Kenny Britt says there were times last year when he had his doubts and lost a little bit of confidence as he played in his first season back from a torn ACL.
Britt posted a career-high 42 catches for the Tennessee Titans last season, but it was clear that after one major knee surgery and two minor procedures (one on each knee) that he was not really himself.
“I can definitely say that (I got down on myself). It didn't hit me right away when I tore my ACL. My mindset was I can get back. I can make it happen,” Britt said. “But when you're going through the long process and you're grinding it out each and every day, and then you notice that you're not back to your full potential when I came back last year, then you say, what's gonna happen then. So you definitely get down on yourself.”
It was not so much the right knee, where Britt had surgery in October 2011 to repair his ACL and MCL, that caused the former first-round pick so much problems, but the left knee where Britt had surgery on his meniscus that seemed to trouble him more last year.
“I had two more surgeries, including one on my left knee. I didn't know that was gonna happen. I got down on myself throughout last year in the season, because I was having problems with it. It took me a whole year to get back to where I was, but I'm healthy right now,” Britt said.
The way Britt found out he had finally cleared the necessary hurdles with his knees is probably not the way the Titans would have preferred to have him made that discovery. Britt did so by playing pickup basketball over the summer with friends in New Jersey on an outdoor court.
“It was a game of basketball, and I wasn't thinking about my knees, and it's a game where you've got to stop and go every five seconds, and it's and down on the hard blacktop, but me playing a couple of games out there with friends let me know, 'Hey, I'm back to myself''” Britt said.
Britt is healthy, even though the Titans have still given him the occasional day off to rest.
“Kenny is running as well as he’s run. He’s confident. He likes what we’re doing. Everything is plus, plus, plus with Kenny,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “He’s a guy that you have to be very careful monitoring how many reps he’s getting, how much running he’s doing. But so far, so good. I think he’s excited he’s not worrying about anything anymore. He’s not worried about my left knee, my right knee, understanding the offense. Those things are out of his mind and he’s just playing now. This is when we saw him, at his best, when he came into the league with us. Hopefully it’ll make a big difference this year.”
Britt is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and as yet to live up to his first-round billing due to injuries and some off-field issues. He has one last chance to prove himself, but insists that he isn't trying to prove himself simply because he is in a contract year.
“You hear it from coaches, you hear it from players and you hear it from the media, but I haven't really thought about what my contract is gonna be like. Football will handle that,” Britt said.
Monday practice notes
*Cornerback Alterraun Verner got some work at safety on Monday, something that was unveiled back in mini-camp.
Verner got a look with the third unit at safety, even though he is in a fight with Tommie Campbell to retain his starting right cornerback job.
“He’s handling himself really well, which we thought he would. He’s playing well at corner. He’s adapted well to what they’re asking him to do,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “I think he took the approach that, ‘if I do a great job no matter where they put me, you can’t get me off the field,’ and that’s how you should do it. He’s had a nice camp, so I think now it’s just seeing how these guys play in games when we’re doing all the other things we’re not doing out here. The tackling, getting caught in a drive and seeing how to respond, and making plays. I think so far it’s been good, but we haven’t made any final decisions, so we’ll wait and see how it all works out.”
*QB Jake Locker was solid in one team drill, throwing crisp passes that found their intended target. The only bad misfire was a pass that Jason McCourty intercepted near the end of practice.
*Early in practice, the Titans were using volleyballs to practice punt blocks and also downing punts inside the 5-yard line.
*Running back Jackie Battle continues to try and make a case for a roster spot with some strong downhill running between the tackles on Monday.
*Shonn Greene fumbled once in a four-minute drill on Monday.
*While Tommie Campbell got first-team reps at right cornerback on Monday, Rob Turner took the first reps at center for the Titans. Turner is battling Fernando Velasco, last year's starter, for the center position.
Titans coach Mike Munchak said kicker Rob Bironas, who has been battling a sore back, is uncertain for Thursday's preseason opener against the Washington Redskins.
Others out of practice and lout of the game Sunday include center Brian Schwenkie (hamstring), linebacker Colin McCarthy (hamstring), linebacker Zaviar Gooden (ankle) and cornerback Matthew Pierce (ankle).
Karl Klug was rested because of soreness from Saturday's scrimmage, but has a chance to play Thursday night.