Kenny Britt is out of the picture for the remainder of the season but was included in the Tennessee Titans' 2011 team picture, which was taken Tuesday.
Less than a week removed from reconstructive knee surgery, the explosive wide receiver pulled on his jersey and pants and — for that one moment — was back with his teammates and coaches. As he moved easily into his spot, the uninformed might not have known anything was wrong.
“He’s had the operation and he’s walking around like it’s nothing,” offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said. “He’s just a freak of nature. If there’s anyone out there like that, we’d like to get another one of those.”
The fact of the matter, though, is that the Titans miss more than just his athleticism.
Tuesday, the smiles on the faces of all of the players and coaches were specifically for the camera trained on them. Yet it has become a common occurrence in the locker room and meeting rooms for those in Britt’s company to laugh and grin and anything else of the like ever since he joined the team as a first-round draft pick in 2009.
“It’s definitely different without him in the meeting room,” wide receiver Damian Williams, who took Britt’s place in the starting lineup, said. “He’s one of our friends. He’s definitely a playmaker and you can say what you want about him on the field, but off the field it’s different not having one of your friends in the room when you look around.
“You’re used to hearing him laughing and this, that and the third every day. Now you have to figure out where to get the laughs from.”
Even in the wake of several off-the-field legal incidents that earned him a trip to the NFL commissioner’s office prior to the start of the season, Britt has remained joyful and jovial — publicly for the cameras and privately in the company of his teammates.
His enthusiasm is infectious. His barely bridled joy is contagious.
“That’s a void, I will say that,” wide receivers coach Dave Ragone said. “I was fortunate enough to be around him for that short period of time and really get to know him as much as you can for that eight-week stretch [from the start of training camp until he was injured]. There’s a lot of misrepresentation about who Kenny Britt is. He’s a guy who’s fun-loving. He cares about his teammates.”
Having missed more than two full games since he was hurt, Britt still is third on the team with 17 receptions, second with 289 receiving yards and first with three touchdown receptions.
Williams has caught a touchdown pass in each of the last two games, which has made him the only Tennessee player with more than one.
Others have done their best to do their part in the meeting room.
“It’s different and we definitely miss him, but … somebody’s always got something to say,” wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins said.
Britt’s presence and personality are such that, in the wake of the injury, Ragone felt it was important to let those who remained in the wide receivers meeting room say whatever they felt at the time.
“In that room, we talked right after we had lost him and it’s more about losing kind of a family member in that room,” Ragone said. “Obviously, we miss him on the field, but the guy comes with a smile, cracks a couple jokes and keeps it lively.
“Those guys don’t forget that stuff.”