Veteran center Justin Britt rebooted his NFL career last season with the Texans, providing a gritty presence and leadership for an overhauled roster.
Signed to a one-year, $5 million contract, Britt overcame a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in 2019 that prevented him from playing in 2020. He gave a technically sound and tough skill set for the Texans and was voted the winner of the annual Ed Block Courage award by his teammates.
Now that Britt, 30, is a pending unrestricted free agent, he’d like to return to the Texans ideally. The Texans will have to gauge his health after he started 11 games last season, missing time on injured reserve with a knee injury for a 4-13 rebuilding team.
“I had a blast this year,” Britt said. “This is kind of everything I would want other than wins. Coming to work every week with this group of guys and to see how we grew and the steps we took, would I come back here? Yeah, if everything was right and the way it needed to be, I would love to come back here and be around these men again.”
Britt battled through a lingering knee injury and was activated from injured reserve to regain his role as a starter.
Britt enjoyed playing for Texans offensive line coach James Campen, who has two years remaining on histhree-year contract and could be retained by a new head coach.
“I love James Campen,” Britt said. “If I could have it my way, I’d want to play for him for the rest of my career. He was someone who literally made every day enjoyable. The games we got shut out, didn’t score, we’d show up the next day and he would make those meetings enjoyable, which throughout a long season like this, it pays dividends and keeps your mental health in check.
“You don’t go down a rabbit hole, you just keep grinding, keep working. He’s someone like that who motivates his players and he knows this. I’ve told him this.”
Due to injuries, including the loss of left tackle Laremy Tunsil to thumb surgery and right tackle Marcus Cannon to back surgery, the Texans had to reshuffle their offensive line several times. Besides Britt getting hurt and also missing time with COVID after testing positive, the Texans plugged in several different starting combinations.
“I just think they’ve pulled together the right character,” Britt said. “You always have some people that are bad apples on a team and you try to wean them out or help them, but up front there was none of that. Everyone could have and should have played in the NFL this year, somewhere. We had the talent. They had the talent, but it was group of men who were selfless and didn’t care who got to start.”
Britt is already back to work training for next season, lifting weights with private trainer Billy Voltaire, a former Texans and Denver Broncos performance therapy and strength and conditioning specialist. The passion for the game is still there, Britt emphasized.
“With how my knee went this year, I’m going to be going back and I’m going to start doing stuff next week,” Britt said. “I’m not going to be squatting 600 or running a mile, but I don’t know, I feel like my body responds better if I’m active or moving around rather than just laying around, letting it rest.”
“Not bad, not bad at all. I definitely know that I have a lot more football left in me, and the drive is still there. I know I could have done better in situations this year, and I could have been better in the San Francisco game. Coming off COVID, I was way too aggressive and that’s a whole conversation. Yeah, I still love it, I’m still hungry to be great. I knew the bumps and bruises were going to come along with it, and I’m just ready to get the body back.”