No longer is it just a question of accountability for Kenny Britt. It also has to do with accounting.
The Tennessee Titans’ 2009 first-round draft pick insists he is content as he enters the final year of his first NFL contract. After four years of offseason issues, inconsistent performance and injuries, though, there is a great deal of uncertainty about what his teammates and coaches should expect from him and what he might expect in terms of future earnings.
“It’s important to me … just to come out there and be healthy,” Britt said Friday. “I’m hoping everybody’s praying for me to be healthy. I feel good. I feel the best shape that I’ve been, for the last two years into [organized team activities]. So I’m excited about this year.
“I’m not too worried about the contract. … I’m just more worried about me staying healthy.”
More than a year and half removed from reconstructive surgery on one knee and a year out from a minor procedure on the other, Britt took part in every aspect of Friday’s on-field session, which capped the first week of organized team activities [OTAs]. Two more weeks of OTAs follow, then a one-week minicamp before players get a break in advance of training camp.
The wide receiver wore sleeves on both knees but no braces and said he has benefited from offseason training that included a month each in Pensacola, Fla. and Los Angeles.
“I know I’ve had an injury, but I actually came back stronger so I’m excited about that,” he said. “There’s some things I’m still working on but this year is just so much better.”
Britt set a career-high with 45 receptions in 2012 but his average of 13.1 yards per catch was the lowest of his career. Also, he caught four touchdown passes, an average of less than one for every 11 catches. In his first three years, one of which was cut short in the third week by the knee injury, he reached the end zone, on average, once every 6.6 receptions.
For the most part, he avoided the type of legal issues in recent months that were all too common in previous offseasons (he was arrested three times in 2011 and once in 2012). Police in New Jersey did seek him for questioning after he dropped off a friend who had sustained a stab wound at a hospital.
The issues from previous years prompted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to suspend Britt, who has played all 16 games just once in four seasons, for the opening contest of 2012.
“They’re counting on me to be on the field and doing the right things on the field and off the field,” Britt said. “They expect me to be a good pro that I should be and I’m going to be. Other than that, I’m just going to go out there … and be the best player I can be.”
At his best, Britt has been pretty good.
He set career-highs with 225 receiving yards and three touchdowns in a 2010 game against Philadelphia. Two weeks into the 2011 season he had 14 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
A week after the Philadelphia game he sustained a groin injury that sidelined him for four weeks. In the third game of 2011, he sustained the knee injury that ended that season prematurely.
“I don’t believe I have to prove anything,” he said. “If there is anything I would like to prove [it’s] that I can be the receiver I was two years ago and be a better receiver than I was two years ago. I’m focusing more on football than I ever have in my life the last couple months.
“I’m really excited to see what I can do this year.”
The Titans and every other team that might need a wide receiver will be watching too, trying to decide how much time and money — if any — it is worth to invest in his future.
“I believe that everybody trusts me,” Britt said. “Everybody counts on me throughout every year. … If they invite you on this team and they’re paying you a contract everyone should be accountable for what they do.”