When Justin Britt drives up to NRG Stadium each day, he can't believe it. It's been 19 months since he suited up for an NFL game. He often finds himself waking up before his alarm even goes off at 5 a.m., ready to get to work.
"It's definitely a blessing," Britt said. "Last year was the longest probably year of my life, but the most enjoyable at the same time. I missed football like crazy but I had time to take care of my body, let my body fully heal, give my knee the attention it needed."
Drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Britt had missed just one game in his NFL career until a season-ending knee injury forced him to miss the final eight games of the 2019 season.
The Seahawks released Britt in April 2020 and the veteran offensive lineman ended up spending last season as a free agent. During the pandemic, he made the most of his time, rehabbing in his garage and spending time with his family.
"I've been through an ACL tear before, so I knew how to approach it," Britt said. "This time I had time. I had my third child, my daughter, during COVID in August, so I got to be there for that and really experience having a newborn because in this football world you don't really have that time. It was a blessing, but definitely towards December, January when things start heating up, I'm sitting at home itching for it. As soon as I started getting calls, I was happy, excited."
Britt lined up in multiple spots on the offensive line during his six seasons (2014-2019) with the Seahawks. As a rookie, he started at right tackle for the Seahawks before moving to left guard in 2015. By his third season, Britt was playing center although he admits, the move was rocky at first.
"My first pass set, whenever they moved me to center, didn't go that well and I think the fact that it didn't go well made me want to figure it out," Britt said. "It just kind of came to me. The snaps were easy. I mean, I already knew the offense. The hardest part was just trying to figure out how to communicate to everyone. Once I figured that out, it kind of was just easy. I feel like I was trying to find my home, whenever that was my home all along."
The Texans signed Britt as a free agent on March 8. Now looking to start the second act of his career, Britt has embraced his role in Houston.
"There's a reason they brought me here," Britt said. "I'm going to bring an attitude, an aggressiveness. I'm going to play smart at the same time. I just want to play football and I know how, and I can make sure we're on the same page. I understand my job at center. I understand the job that the right tackle has and the left tackle, so I'm just ready to get going. I'm just ready to get out there and compete and show them and get the ball running. I want to run the ball."
Britt started 86 of the 87 games he played for the Seahawks. In 2018, he led an offensive line unit that became just the fourth in NFL history to have a 1,000-yard rusher and three 300-yard rushers in a season.
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