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Notebook: Kenny Britt-Jake Locker Chemistry Advances

Posted Dec 13, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The film from last week’s game served as a mirror for Kenny Britt.

The fourth-year receiver had season highs of eight catches and 143 yards, including a pair of 46-yard receptions in the first half at Indianapolis, closely matching Britt’s first two games of 2011 in which he caught 14 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns.

Britt, however, suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Week 3, forcing multiple surgeries this offseason and has been grinding to return to his full potential.

“I’m confident I can finish out the season,” Britt said. “I’m always confident in myself but it brought back to me where I was last year and the player I was last year starting off, that I still have it in myself,” Britt said.

Despite grueling rehab sessions, Britt and the Titans have come to terms with the fact that he won’t be 100 percent back to form this season. They, however, are encouraged by the progress he’s making, even if the process is not always pretty.

“It’s definitely hard to accept, especially going out there in practice and coming back in and watching the routes I run out there, ‘That looks sloppy, that doesn’t look like a pro receiver,’ but these last three weeks, I’ve been feeling better,” Britt said. “The last two weeks were my best two weeks during practice and the games.”

Tennessee (4-9) hosts the New York Jets (6-7) at LP Field on Monday Night Football  and expects a tough challenge for its passing game. The Jets have allowed just 196 passing yards per game, which ranks third in the NFL.

Sunday’s game was just the sixth that Britt and second-year pro and first-year starting QB Jake Locker have played together, and Locker said he’s pleased with the way their chemistry is developing as Britt’s confidence returns.

“I think that we all know how talented Kenny is and the type of game-changer he can be,” Locker said. “I think from a confidence standpoint, going out and performing like he did, catching some deep balls, and being that big threat that he is for us is going to be a big confidence builder for him.”

Britt said his eyes are getting better at tracking passes and his hands are becoming steadier. He said both of those are important elements not only on the deep balls, but “everywhere in my game.”

“Running slants, that was my really hardest one, just going out there running slants and trying to find the ball coming out of the quarterback’s hands and catching with my eyes first and catching it with my hands,” Britt said. “It was really just hard to locate the ball coming out of my breaks because it came so fast and was on me so fast. These past few weeks, I’ve gotten better.”

ALOHA, AGAIN: The Titans signed safety Suaesi Tuimaunei to their practice squad Thursday.

Tuimaunei has now been a teammate of Titans safety fellow Hawaii native Al Afalava at every level of football from Pop Warner to Kahuku High School to Oregon State to the NFL.  

“I was in Hawaii and I flew out last night and got here this morning,” Tuimaunei said. “I’m super excited. I’m glad to be playing again somewhere, having another opportunity.”

Tuimaunei arrived in Nashville about 8 a.m. Thursday to make it in time for practice after more than nine hours of travel from Hawaii that included a layover in Texas.

The hectic travel schedule didn’t allow Titans coach Mike Munchak to meet with Tuimaunei before the game. Reporters asked Munchak to help with the pronunciation, and Munchak said “I’ll let you know when I learn all that.”

“We haven’t even talked yet. I didn’t think he was going to get in. (He’s) from Oregon State, a defensive back,” Munchak said. “After that, I’ll get a chance to meet him when I go inside. That’s how the year’s been going, with replacing guys, and scouring who’s out there with the injuries, but he’ll help us on the scout team with the defensive backs and he was running some receiver routes today, so he’s a guy that we’ll count on on both ends that way.”

Tuimaunei spent this season’s training camp with the Falcons and saw Afalava and former Titans safety Aaron Francisco during the teams’ joint scrimmage in Dalton, Ga., in August. After he was cut by Atlanta, Tuimaunei returned to Hawaii. He said Afalava was catching him up to speed on the Titans’ system.

Titans cornerback Jason McCourty welcomed Tuimaunei to the practice field but will need to work on his pronunciation skills.

“It’s exciting to get a new teammate,” McCourty said. “Al was saying (Tuimaunei’s name) to me in practice, and I told him out of respect for ‘Tui’ I wasn’t going to attempt to say his full name at all, but Al has it down pat.”

DAY OFF FOR CJ: The Titans rested Chris Johnson on Thursday, but the running back is expected to practice Friday, Munchak said. Johnson eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the fifth consecutive season on Sunday in Indianapolis, becoming the eighth player in NFL history to accomplish the feat in his first five seasons.

“He hasn’t missed any time all year, hasn’t missed a practice all year, and we thought it was time to let him rest his legs a little bit,” Munchak said.

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