In case it was not apparent previously, Kenny Britt has separated himself from the rest of the Tennessee Titans’ wide receivers.
That was the case literally as well as figuratively in the Titans unveiled in Sunday’s 31-10 victory over the Houston Texans.
Twice, they used an alignment in which three wide receivers – Nate Washington, Justin Gage and Randy Moss – lined up in a bunch formation on one side with Britt alone on the other. Both times, the formation resulted in Britt facing single coverage and both times he made a reception – the first for an 11-yard gain on third-and-five and the second for an eight-yard gain on third-and-3.
“We probably could have used some extra balls on those plays because we had some people open but [quarterback] Kerry [Collins] made some good decisions,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “We created some one-on-one opportunities and in one-on-one opportunities, usually Kenny’s going to win.”
Britt finished the day with a game-high 128 receiving yards and a team-high six receptions.
Despite the fact that he missed four full games and virtually all of a fifth with a hamstring injury, he still leads the team with seven touchdown receptions and – with 601 receiving yards – trails Washington by 11 for the team lead.
Tennessee is 4-0 this season when he has more than three receptions.
“He’s been very effective,” Fisher said. “[Sunday] he kept drives alive, made some big plays and he’s playing with a great deal of energy and making a lot of plays—tough catches, traffic catches. So yeah, he’s becoming a very, very good football player.”
• Game ball: Fisher presented offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger with a game ball following the victory over the Texans. Heimerdinger has undergone chemotherapy treatments the last several weeks after having been diagnosed with cancer.
“Since he was diagnosed I was waiting for the opportunity and it was the perfect opportunity [Sunday],” Fisher said. “He did a great job. He did a great job all week with the plan, and a great job calling. We’re just fortunate to be able to have him at the office every day.”
The offense had 359 total yards, six fewer than in the previous game. It was the first time since October that unit topped 300 in consecutive contests.
“He’s dedicated himself to his job and to this organization—to this team and specifically to the offense in a very, very difficult time,” Fisher said. “What he’s going through is not easy.”
• Change in the middle: Tennessee had the same five players start on the offensive line in 12 of the first 13 games. The one exception was Oct. 10 at Dallas, when Fernando Velasco started at left guard in place of Leroy Harris.
Against Houston, Velasco started at center in place of Eugene Amano, who was placed on injures reserve last week with a neck injury.
“He did a nice job, handled the checks and communicating with [Collins] and the rest of the guys and getting the right thing,” Fisher said. “I think for the most part he did a pretty good job of protecting the passer. Obviously, we were effective in the run game when we needed to be and I thought he played pretty well.”
The Titans are now 2-0 with Velasco in the lineup and running back Chris Johnson has run for 131 and 130 yards, respectively.
• Penalty problems: The Titans’ 12 penalties against the Texans were a season-high.
The issue increased as the game progressed. Tennessee was penalized three times in the first half (all in the second quarter), once in the third quarter and eight times in the fourth.
“We had [eight] penalties in the last eight minutes of the game, that is unacceptable,” Fisher said. “Only one had something to do with the play. We had false starts on offense, …were lined up in the neutral zone a couple of times [on defense].”
• Holiday travel: The Titans’ next game is Sunday at Kansas City, which means the team must leave Saturday (Christmas) in order to get there.
“There is a difference between playing on Christmas Day as compared to playing the day after Christmas,” Fisher said. “Typically in those situations you’re almost better off going on the road. We’ve had Christmas Days here, we’ve changed the schedule.
“The only thing that will change for us on Saturday is that we’ll allow them to spend time with their families in the morning and they’ll come in a couple hours later.”