ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Kenny Britt is embracing his fresh start here with the Rams. The former Tennessee Titans wide receiver is also enjoying his new role as a veteran leader of the Rams’ young receiving corps.
“I was coming in as a new guy and they knew the offense better than I know but they are also young,” Britt said of his fellow wide receivers. “I knew how to run routes better than they did and, seeing coverages out there, how you would run certain routes on different coverages. So I had to take leadership in the room as being a guy that’s six years in and Coach (Jeff Fisher) had that expectation of me.”
The 25-year-old is entering his sixth season in the NFL after being a first-round pick out of Rutgers by the Titans back in 2009.
The Rams have 10 other wide receivers on their 90-man training camp roster. Only Austin Pettis, 26, is older than Britt, but Pettis has just three NFL seasons and 42 career games on his resume compared to five seasons and 57 games for Britt.
“Hopefully I’ve had a lot of impact on the guys,” Britt said, “especially in the morning when guys are sluggish and we have to lift weights and we start that and then hopefully we get amped up and ready to go by the time we hit the field.”
Even though the New Jersey native has emerged as a leader in St. Louis, he has said repeatedly during OTAs and throughout training camp that he is still learning and is trying to absorb as much as he can from his new teammates.
“To tell you the truth, I’m still growing as a person as as a player and I’m still learning,” Britt said following practice on Monday. “I’m still learning from these guys and they are showing me a lot and the offensive coordinator is showing me a lot and the wide receivers coach is showing me a lot. It’s like I’m a rookie all over again.”
That’s exactly what he was looking for when he signed with the Rams.
Britt needed a fresh start after five somewhat tumultuous seasons in Tennessee, including a 2013 campaign where he played in 12 games (three starts) but had just 11 catches for 96 yards and no touchdowns.
He put up solid numbers in his first two seasons, combining for 84 catches for 1,476 and 12 touchdowns while playing for Fisher. But then he suffered a knee injury and became known more for off-the-field issues than on-the-field production, culminating with his career-low numbers in his final season with the Titans.
“He’s a very emotional kid,” Fisher said during OTAs. “He’s an emotional receiver. He looks the part and he can make the plays. I was really happy to see him come on. He kept himself in really good shape during the free agency period. He came in, has done a great job inside. He’s had no setbacks, feels great physically. He could potentially return to where he was a very productive receiver.”
So far Britt has been everything the Rams could have asked for and then some, considering his impact as a vocal and experienced leader for the rest of the wide receiver corps.
But until Britt is able to turn his strong training camp into production during the regular season — for a team that desperately needs a few wide receivers to emerge as legitimate playmakers — the questions about whether he can still contribute in the NFL are going to be there.
Britt has a one-year deal with St. Louis, where he’ll play for the same coach (Fisher) that saw him perform at his best during his first two seasons.
If he doesn’t work out here, it may be his last real shot in the NFL.
“He needed a fresh start,” Fisher said during OTAs. “I know him well. He’ll be successful here.”
Nate Latsch has been covering sports in St. Louis for more than a decade, working for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports, STLhighschoolsports.com, Scout.com and other newspapers and websites. You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more of his Rams coverage at GridironGateway.com.