Donnie Avery took a moment Wednesday morning and said what he thought needed to be said.
Then it was time to listen. And the veteran wide receiver liked what he heard.
“I got a smile on my face once I started hearing the verbiage [in the play calls],” he said. “It was great. I’m ready to play.”
Avery, 27, signed with the Tennessee Titans following a morning workout and took the place of Kenny Britt, who was placed on injured reserve. Britt sustained a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s victory over Denver.
The first wide receiver drafted in 2008 (second round, 33rd overall), Avery was a free agent after having been released by the St. Louis Rams when they made their final cuts back on Sept. 3.
Tennessee also saw him when the teams met in the preseason. Avery had two receptions for 23 yards and a third quarter touchdown in the Rams’ 17-16 victory that day.
“We worked out quite a few guys and we decided [Wednesday] morning,” coach Mike Munchak said. “… They run a system that has some of the same terminology, to some degree. We are going to put him in at one spot with, the ‘X’ and see how he progresses the next couple of days and then maybe [we] can have him available, if need be. We will just see day by day how he does the next couple of days.”
The familiarity with the calls immediately increased optimism about his ability to contribute to the offense in a timely manner, possibly as soon as Sunday’s game at Cleveland.
“Just by hearing the plays [Wednesday] out there on the field, it’s almost similar to what we did in St. Louis,” Avery said. “So I’m real familiar with more than half the plays we were doing outside.”
He’s even more aware of what awaits Britt, the Titans’ first-round choice in 2009 and leading receiver through the first two weeks of this season. Britt sustained tears to the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee, a situation which will require reconstructive surgery.
Avery, who caught 100 passes and scored nine touchdowns (eight receiving, one rushing) in his first two NFL seasons, missed all of 2010 because of reconstructive knee surgery.
As such, he took a moment to talk to Britt shortly after he signed his contract.
“I told him I was praying for him,” Avery said. “I went through the pain of that injury last year, so I know how it is. I said, ‘Some days you’re going to want to do it and some days you’re not. But in order to get back to where you want to be, you have to do it every day.’”
If Avery does play this week, he will not provide any element of surprise given that there are those with the Browns, namely first-year head coach Pat Shurmur, who know him well.
Shurmur was St. Louis’ offensive coordinator the last two seasons.
“Donnie is really a real fast guy and he has pure track speed,” Shurmur said. “I haven’t been around him, seeing him, but there are guys that can come back from them with little or no effects, and there are other guys that maybe will struggle their whole careers. I haven’t been around Donnie so it would be unfair to say. I know he is extremely fast.”
What he already knows ought to make him a fast learner when it comes to the Titans offense.