The sun bends towards the horizon as the buildings once known as Fountain Square cast long shadows across the sprawling expanse of the Titans practice facility at MetroCenter.
Another day of training camp ends, the players in their knots start to go their separate ways: some to the fence to sign autographs for waiting fans, others to do radio interviews. The remainder catch up with their families or head for the showers.
On a distant field, far away from the clamoring crowds — and more importantly, far away from the microphones and reporters' pads — one player remains.
He's barely visible in those far reaches. It's just him, a low-level member of the staff and a JUGS machine.
Despite the distance, his gifts are evident: catching balls with easy grace, moving with taut efficiency. No matter where the robotic quarterback's random number generator sends the ball — high, wide, short, low — the catch is made.
And that is how Titans would-be star wide receiver Kenny Britt spends training camp.
He's far and away the best receiver on the team — literally. He readies for the season far and away from everyone else.
Sprint, look, turn, jump, catch, sprint again. Repeat.
It is a routine, this part of the game. This part comes easy to him. Athletes are not like normal people, and that's why they do what they do: The hardest things are simple to them.
And to some — like Britt — sometimes the simplest things are the hardest.
When he's healthy — and all too often that's not very often — he is brilliant on the field. In the locker room, he's affable and likable, all smiles and jokes. His teammates seem to like him. He's even at ease with reporters, despite all the criticism and pressure heaped on him.
But when he leaves the locker room, and he's not around the team, something changes in Britt.
The latest in the laundry list of off-field misfires for the fourth-year player out of Rutgers — all seemingly related to his inability to get into a car without getting into trouble — is the most baffling NFL DUI arrest in recent memory.
Only Britt could get picked up by gate guards at Fort Campbell for allegedly attempting to drive drunk onto an Army base. He's probably fortunate the Titans don't practice near Gitmo.
Like other players who had run-ins with the law during last year's lockout, Britt got a reprieve from the commissioner. No suspensions during the work stoppage, but a guarantee from Roger Goodell he'd be watching.
Double super-secret probation, right? But Britt didn't take advantage of his second chance at a second chance. As a result, he had to face a surely miffed commissioner — not for a transgression as egregious as, say, being involved in a Pac-Man-esque strip-club shooting, but for something even more frustrating: abject and avoidable stupidity.
Because of his lingering knee problems, Britt was likely to miss some early season action in any event. But Goodell will hand down a suspension anyway, putting the gifted pass-catcher on notice again: Don't be an idiot or you won't be around for long.
It's a simple message. But for Britt, those seem to be the hardest to hear.
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