Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Britton can give Jaguars levity, nastiness
By Paul Kuharsky
Locker rooms need levity.
Eben Britton leading a sing-along provides that.
But the third-year right tackle isn’t just comic relief from the sort of tension that can build within and around a football team.
And the tone he sets isn’t funny to everyone.
“Nasty,” he said when asked to classify the scheme change that arrived with a new coach and his offensive staff. “That’s, like, paramount. And I love that.”
The 2012 Jaguars are counting on a lot from Britton.
While they expect more of the solid run blocking that helped Maurice Jones-Drew lead the NFL in rushing last year, they need significantly better pass protection for Blaine Gabbert.
The only things that have changed are the coaches and the right tackle, where Britton returns from a back injury that required surgery and limited him to four games last season.
The Jaguars drafted left tackle Eugene Monroe and Britton in the first and second rounds in 2009 with the expectation that they'd be the long-term bookends for their offensive line. Monroe has shown steady improvement and may be on the verge of elite status. Britton has missed a bunch of action with a shoulder injury in 2010 and the back issue last year.
Following a back operation, he now needs to do at least 30 minutes of stretching a day for maintenance. It’s been an easy habit for him to form, not that he’s had a choice. While a bunch of the other offensive line starters have been banged up and missing time, Britton's been a fixture so far.
The Jaguars are pleased to have him back, and he’s very upbeat about and appreciative of the opportunity. His coach and teammates see it.
“There is no question he loves football,’ coach Mike Mularkey said. “Either he is really happy or he’s a good actor. Wherever he’s going, he lightens things up. I like the grit about him.”
“He does not quit," said the Jaguars’ top pass-rusher, Jeremy Mincey. "Eben’s definitely a tough guy. He doesn’t quit, man. He adds nastiness. That’s good. I’m glad he’s back in the lineup. It’s just like me on the defensive line with that motor. It’ll help our offensive line get that extra little bit of energy that they need.”