Britt Fits The
New England Mold
By Ricky Popolizio
The New England Patriots already possess one of the most talented offensive lines in the league, so there really is no immediate need for Wesley Britt, who stands at 6'8" 316 pounds. But this giant was meant to be a Patriot. Britt, who was signed to the Patriots practice squad on September 5 after being drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL draft, has a easygoing demeanor like Patriots QB Tom Brady to go along with size that is rare for a football player.
"We had a weigh in this morning," said Britt, during an early evening interview when asked about his actual dimensions. "I was 316 pounds. It's pretty much the obvious [what the advantages of my size] are. It's good for certain matchups. You just got to find a way to utilize it to your advantage. It can be leverage for you but also for other people to use against you."
Recently, spectators have questioned Britt's actual size. But the big boy from Cullman, Alabama is indeed 6'-8", 316 pounds. It was not only his size that helped Britt become a force, particularly blocking and knocking down passes, during his four years at the University of Alabama. A combination of size, brains, leadership and resilience make this offensive tackle a pretty complete package.
He graduated with a degree in marketing and a 3.27 GPA. As a four-year starter with the Crimson Tide, the twenty-four year old earned many honors, including being named first-team All-Southeastern Conference, third-team All-America as a senior. The coaches also voted Britt the best blocker in the SEC that year. Those accomplishments came after Britt suffered season-ending left tibia and fibula fractures against Tennessee as a junior. Despite a strong senior campaign, Britt's proneness to injury may have caused his stock to drop in the draft.
"I'm one-hundred percent, and I'm just going to keep getting better," said Britt. "I was doing great before [the injury] and am doing great after it. I just learned from it and am trying to become a better person and a better football player."
Britt felt that before his injury, he could have been selected in the first round, but that is history and he is ready to move forward.
"I consider myself an optimistic person. Glass half full type of thing. So my injuries made me mentally strong."
Wesley never had any doubts about a full recovery, and he believes in fate. Even as Britt was carried off the field the day of his injury against Tennessee, he lifted his arm, energizing his team and his fans.
"I have my Christian faith in god, and I believe everything happens for a reason."
Since joining the Patriots practice squad, it has been evident that Britt has carried the same mindset and energy with him into New England. San Diego is already in his the past.
"I just worked as hard as I could [in San Diego]. They kept three tackles and another backup, and they had a six-year vet who they felt was better for the situation there. I am comfortable with the way things happened and just want to keep moving forward."
The new tallest man on the Patriots roster has already expressed a strong enthusiasm for the three-time Super Bowl organization. He has noticed a difference in the way things are done from San Diego to New England.
"It's amazing here, it really is. The facilities are amazing, the coaching staff, you can tell it's a championship squad. San Diego had an awesome coach and staff too, but there's something special here that's for sure."
"The offensive line coach, he is phenomenal and stays late to work with me and help me become a better player. That's something I didn't get in San Diego, not that I'm saying anything negative about San Diego. I'm already doing better with my technique since I got here."
The Patriots do have an organization made up of special players and personnel. Bill Belichick has made a living on bringing in talent that fits the New England way. Wesley Britt seems to be a perfect Patriot who could eventually play a role as a centerpiece on the offensive line and as a leader, on and off the field. But as Tom Brady plans one week at a time, Britt is taking one day at a time.
"I just want to become the best person and football player I can be. I want to help my teammates become better people, and try not to be negative toward anyone. I want to lead by example and contribute to the New England Patriots."
"But you got to have respect to be a leader. I'm just trying to earn that respect from my teammates and find my role."
Britt has hardly been part of the organization for two weeks, but he is already earning respect, and making some friends in the process.
"I met a lot of the guys, and they are really good people. Matt Cassel, I've been talking to him a lot. We actually have the same agent, so I knew him before. Logan Mankins and [Dan] Koppen, just the whole O-line are just great people."
Britt wouldn't mention any particular battles that may be going on for roster spots. As the new guy, the blue-collar Britt is just trying to earn a living.
"I'm really just competing with myself. I need to learn the playbook and the system, and worry about myself. I will let the coaches make a decision. I want to do anything to help in whatever role that might be. They are good at finding it."
The Patriots staff will find it, and Britt will likely fill a need for the Pats, if not now, in the near future. Meanwhile, he plans to continue to work hard and enjoy his new home.
"I drove around Foxboro, Walpole, and Rhode Island looking around. I'm looking for different housing options now."
"I'm really enjoying it. It's a great organization that has won three of the last four Super Bowls, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of that."
And the Patriots are fortunate to have a hard working 6'8" 316 pound offensive lineman developing on their practice squad.
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