NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If the Titans throw the ball enough Sunday in San Diego, Kenny Britt could get as many as 25 snaps.
They could be 25 snaps that tell us a lot about how Tennessee’s offense will be this year. Britt is coming off a reconstruction, clean-up surgery on both knees and a one-game suspension under the league’s personal conduct policy.
If he can give the sort of spark he’s provided when healthy in the past, the Titans will be able to open things up in new ways. They can conceivably be a throw-first team when they want to be, which would make it easier to shift the offensive burden away from running back Chris Johnson. If Johnson continues the lifeless play we saw last year and on opening day, then that's the direction the team needs to be heading.
“Everything is just off my shoulders now, I can just think about football and think about helping my team,” Britt said. “That’s what I want to do for the rest of the year.”
How effective can he be right away?
“I’m not too sure, they’re baby-stepping me right now… I’m just trying to get my eyes back, seeing the defense and what’s out there, trying to get my feet back, trying to run my routes as clean as I can.”
Quarterback Jake Locker, who practiced some Wednesday with a banged up left shoulder and is in line to play, called Britt a “difference-maker” who’s one of the league’s best receivers when he’s healthy.
Britt had just one preseason appearance in 2011 as he was coming off a hamstring injury. And in his first game he caught five passes in Jacksonville for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
The Titans have endured a litany of off-the-field issues because he’s so talented, and they hope the patience starts to pay football dividends Sunday.
The first hit is usually a big deal to a guy back in the lineup after ACL reconstruction, he said he’s rather give it than take it.
“I’m still a little stiff out there running my routes,” he said. “I feel like a freshman back in college, just trying to get my eyes back, knowing where the safety is, what coverage it is out there.”
We used to say Britt was a key to backing an extra defender out of the box, a key development for Johnson. But as the running back turned four carries into 11 yards against the Patriots, Johnson was having plenty of trouble even on plays that were blocked up for him, and an eighth man in the box wasn’t a regular factor.
Britt and Kendall Wright can take the top of a defense, and the Titans need to find big plays, especially if they are absorbing runs for losses and no gain along the way.