Kenny Britt is a walking, talking cup of espresso. With emphasis on the talking. From the moment the wide receivers show up in the morning to lift weights, Britt is a high-energy wake-up call at Rams Park — smiling, taunting, teasing, joking.
Fellow wide receiver Brian Quick chuckles at the thought.
“I wouldn’t call it trash-talking,” Quick said. “He’s having fun. A lot of guys, they don’t take it personally. We’re being competitive, and that’s what comes with it when you come out here and play this game.”
Does he ever shut up? Veteran wide receivers coach Ray Sherman didn’t think twice before answering:
“No. He’s always talking,” Sherman said, shaking his head. “He keeps things going. Even in the meetings. It’s just fun to have him in there. He’s just always upbeat. Always. And I love that because he brings that energy into the room.”
That energy has livened the wide receiver room. Even some who are normally pretty quiet, such as Austin Pettis.
Pettis is “very smart, but he may not say too much,” Sherman said. “Now, he’s yah, yah, yah. He’s yacking.”
It’s reached the point in the few short months Britt has been around, that when things are quiet and Britt’s around, the wide receivers are puzzled.
“When we don’t hear him, you know something’s wrong,” Quick said. “Or something’s up. So we get him fired up.”
Those quiet moments have been few and far between. Who would’ve thought when the Rams signed him to a modest one-year contract April 5, that he would turn into the sparkplug of the wideouts?
“Kenny’s always had that type of personality,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “He loves the game. He’s not afraid to voice his opinion, and he’s pulling the young guys along with him. He practices one speed, and that’s full. That’s a good example.”
Kenny Britt, leader? Yes, this is the same Kenny Britt who had a long list of off-field issues dating back to his days with Fisher as a Tennessee Titan. The same Kenny Britt who created a stir when a sex tape popped up on his Instagram account and became public knowledge on the third day of the draft.
(Fortunately for Britt, Michael Sam was drafted that same day, taking over the NFL news cycle.)
Britt calls his apparent maturation process a coming of age.
“Remember, I came in (the NFL) at 20 years old as a young guy,” he said. “Each year, you learn a little bit more about yourself, and how you work and how you play.”
And suddenly, he steps into the wide receiver room for the first time as a Ram, and he’s the veteran of the group.
“People are looking at me as one of the old guys on the team,” said Britt, a month shy of his 26th birthday. “You’ve definitely got to change some things in your life.”
Who knows if this new, improved Britt will have staying power? But Sherman, who has coached the likes of Terrell Owens, Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson as a receivers coach —not to mention Cris Carter and Randy Moss as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator in ’99— is delighted with what he’s seen from Britt so far.
Dating back to the early ’90s when Sherman and Fisher were on George Seifert’s staff in San Francisco, Sherman says he learned not to prejudge a player based on what happened with a previous team.
“In spite of what has happened there, they come in with a clean slate,” Sherman said. “So I’m gonna judge them on what they’re doing here. I can’t worry about what happened there —that’s dead and gone.
“And I tell you what, (Britt) has been a joy to have. He’s a smart kid. He’s very conscientious. He wants to do the right thing. He studies. He prepares. And he’s like that when he’s in the classroom, and on the field. I mean I love what he brings to the table.”
Another byproduct of Britt’s presence has been the relationship he’s struck with Quick. Let’s not call it a bromance just yet, but ...
“They kind of hit it off when Kenny first got here,” Sherman said. “They spend time together. They work together. They taunt. It’s just nice to see.
“And Kenny, he’s an imposing player. Physical. Strong. Fast. And Brian is sorta like that. Same kind of guy. Similar bodies. Similar style.”
Britt is 6-3, 223; Quick is 6-3, 218. One of the things Britt does best, and that Quick still needs to work on, is coming down with the contested ball, the so-called 50-50 ball in traffic.
It’s something Sherman has stressed to the receivers in the meeting room and also on the practice field. Going up and getting the ball at its highest point; grabbing it before your feet hit the ground.
Simply watching Britt go up and get the football in practice has helped. Quick concedes that he tries to mimic some of Britt’s work.
“So I do it exactly how he does it,” Quick said. “I learn from him all the time. He’s a veteran. He’s been there before; he’s been in certain situations I haven’t been in. So he tells me, I listen, and then I watch him. And that’s a good thing.”
Britt has enjoyed the process of taking Quick under his wing and says he’s actually learned some stuff from Quick, too.
“It’s actually wonderful,” Britt said. “Me just being a big guy and being a physical guy. And being in the league for so long, I’ve learned a lot from a lot of guys ... on my route running and using my body down the field.”
The Rams are hoping some of that rubs off, not just on Quick but on the entire receiver corps.