Thursday, September 26, 2013
One good reason to stick with Britt
By Paul Kuharsky
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Plenty of football fans in Tennessee would be happy to see the Titans simply swap Justin Hunter and Kenny Britt.
Hunter, after all, just grabbed a game-winning 34-yard touchdown pass, while Britt is struggling with drops and penalties and focus.
It could happen Sunday against the Jets, but not because of production. Britt suffered a fractured rib on a bad landing after going up for a pass against the Chargers. He didn’t practice Wednesday and he was limited Thursday.
Mike Munchak said his fate for the Jets game will likely be determined by what he’s able to do Friday.
“It’s amazing these last 48 hours how guys get better,” Mike Munchak said. “We wish he could’ve done more today, but he didn’t. He was out here with his pads on, but tomorrow’s going to be another day to see if he can come back and do more reps than he did last week.”
But Britt has talked this week about needing to refocus, and this seems like a good occasion to help him along. Sit him to give him time to work through the soreness and he can do some refocusing while Hunter tries to build on last week.
“That’s all part of it, part of our thinking when we look at how he is healthy-wise and what’s best for him, going forward and long-term,” Munchak said.
There is a big reason not to scrap Britt completely. He’s a superior blocker to Hunter.
I say repeatedly the first quality I want in a receiver is, you know, the ability to receive.
But the Titans are a run first-offense and the sort of big plays Chris Johnson can make often get big help from blocking receiver. Britt’s done it for a long time, dating back to his time at Rutgers with Ray Rice. Hunter hasn’t done it nearly as much or as effectively. Britt is 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds; Hunter is 6-4 and 203. Britt isn't only 20 pounds heavier, he's a lot stronger which means he's not going to get beat up by run blocking 20 or 25 times in a game.
While Hunter is a willing blocker, that doesn’t make him a better blocker by any means. Britt has drawn penalties blocking this season, but if he can clean those up, given the choice between the two in run blocking, it’s not a contest.
Britt’s physicality, as it translated to his ability to get off the jam and to run block, was a big reason the Titans drafted him 30th overall in 2009.
“That was the exciting thing about his size when he was first playing was that he was blocking well,” Munchak said. “We had him doing crack blocks and his first three years he was blocked real well. He enjoyed doing it, he was highly engaged in it, he took pride in it."
Munchak wants Britt blocking, just doing so more smartly with his hands to avoid holding calls.
“Justin is very willing, it’s not like he’s shying away from it,” Munchak said. “He’ll throw his body in there, (sometimes) he’ll get bounced out of there. A lot of guys aren’t very willing. He’ll get a lot bigger and stronger at it. Those guys get on him pretty good about it, so he’s responded well at least to getting in the right spots.”
For now, Britt's the better choice. I'd have no beef with him getting a week of to heal and reset. But once he's healthy, he's a player the run game needs with potential to recover and help as a pass catcher too.
Hunter should play more. Just not to the degree where Britt hardly plays at all.