HOUSTON – Texans veteran center Justin Britt was officially ruled out for Sunday’s road game against the Denver Broncos as he remains absent from the team while working through personal issues related to football as he contemplates his options.
With Britt absent for the past three days at practice, he is being replaced by backup center Scott Quessenberry as the starter.
“He’s not practicing, he’s not playing this week,” Texans coach Lovie Smith said.
Smith didn’t expand on what Britt’s personal reasons are for his absence
Smith said that he will elaborate later about Britt’s status
Quessenberry has been preparing all week to step in after Britt didn’t practice Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday after expressing disappointment in his play during an overtime tie versus the Indianapolis Colts that included some rough moments by him with a false start penalty and some missed blocks.
Quessenberry, the third brother to play for the Texans, joined the team on a one-year, $1.18 million contract this offseason. The former All-Pac-12 selection from UCLA has played in 60 career NFL games with nine starts since the Los Angeles Chargers drafted him in the fifth round in 2018.
“It’s just the next-man-up mentality,” Quessenberry said Thursday after practice. “Always prepare like you’re the starter and like you’re going to play every snap of the game. Be ready for the unexpected. Just going to go out there and play hard-nosed football and try to finish every play and play hard and play to the whistle and give everything I’ve got for the four other guys out there. It feels good. I’ve played in this league before and this won’t be the last time I play in this league.”
The Texans also have center Jimmy Morrissey, a former Burlsworth Trophy winner, and Las Vegas Raiders seventh-round draft pick from Pitt, on the practice squad.
Starting left guard Justin McCray has also played center for the Texans.
“We feel like both guys are very capable,” offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said.
Quessenberry, whose brothers, David, and Paul, have played for the Texans, played in two games at center last season for the Chargers. Quessenberry has also played guard.
Quessenberry is preparing for a talented Broncos front seven that includes pass rushers Randy Gregory and Bradley Chubb along with defensive linemen Dre’Mont Jones and D.J. Jones.
“They’re a good front,” Quessenberry said. ‘They’ve got two really good pass rushers. D.J. Jones is a heck of a football player on the nose. They play good football.”
Quessenberry said he has received excellent advice from his fellow linemen and offensive line coach George Warhop.
“He’s taught me a lot about the game,” Quessenberry said. “I’ve learned a lot from him.
A former Seattle Seahawks second-round draft pick from Missouri and a former Pro Bowl alternate and Super Bowl champion, Britt cited communication issues against the Colts during a 20-20 tie as the Texans’ running game were ineffective and they allowed three sacks.
“Just making sure everybody is on the same page,” Quessenberry said. “I wasn’t out on the field, so I won’t really speak on that. I know for a fact that I’ve put in the time. I think the guys around me know I’ve put in the time, too. As long we’re on the same page, we’ll be okay. If something is wrong and we’re all on the same page, sometimes things can happen. Better have it right, obviously. As long as we’re on the same page, we’ll be alright.”
Britt, 31, was accountable for his role in some communication issues against the Colts on Sunday, including the false start committed by him and a false start by offensive tackle Tytus Howard after Britt’s late snap. Colts defensive tackle Grover Stewart shot into the backfield to tackle running back Rex Burkhead on a 3rd-and-1 run off right guard A.J. Cann in overtime for a loss of two yards, leading up to Smith calling for a punt that assured a tie.
The Texans signed Britt to a two-year, $9 million extension during the offseason.
“If there is a communication error, it starts with me being the voice of the o-line,” Britt said Tuesday at NRG Stadium. “The guy who sets it all. I false-started for something that shouldn’t have happened. I was late on a snap and Tytus false started, and again, that shouldn’t have happened. Just things like that. Just do better next time.”
Britt didn’t play in any preseason games as a precautionary measure after he dealt with a knee injury last season.
He wasn’t pleased with his performance as he expects a high personal standard.
“I think it just comes down to details, fundamentals, technique,” Britt said. “My first live reps of the season, looking at myself, I was a little out of control. Whether that was excitement or game-day jitters, that’s something I need to improve on. I can’t speak for everyone. I’m ready to get back to work and to put something better on film and make sure we add something to the win column this week.”
Now, the Texans are preparing to play without Britt.
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com