With Texans unsure if Justin Britt (personal reasons related to football) will return, Scott Quessenberry slated to start against Bears

The Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans compete during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) (Jack Dempsey, Jack Dempsey)

DENVER – Texans center Justin Britt remains absent from the team for personal reasons related to football as he contemplates his options, according to league sources.

There has been no change in his status on the roster or move to place him on reserve-retired or reserve-left squad designations.

Britt was disappointed at how he performed during the Texans’ season-opening tie against the Indianapolis Colts and accountable for how he played last week one day before not coming to NRG Stadium for practice. Britt remained absent all week and Scott Quessenberry started against the Denver Broncos and is preparing to start again Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

“I don’t know that yet,” Texans coach Lovie Smith said when asked if he knew if Britt will be back this week. “We’ll let you know when we know that for sure. Again, when things change, last week, I told you he’s not playing. Right now, it’s the first day (Monday). Do you know what we’ve been doing all day since getting off the plane? Watching that last video. We’ll see how the rest of the week plays out.”

The Texans worked out offensive linemen Keaton Sutherland and Parker Ferguson on Monday, according to a league source. They brought in offensive lineman Tyrone Wheatley Jr. for a visit.

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.

“Yes, Scott’s our backup center,” Smith said. “It’s like with all the groups, if your starter can’t go for whatever reason, it’s the backups’ time to step into a starting role. I thought Scott Quessenberry did an excellent job in his first action. We didn’t feel like we missed a beat as far as a player that hadn’t gotten a whole lot of reps, stepping up and giving us a great chance.”

Britt had some rough moments against the Colts with a false start penalty and some missed blocks.

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.

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.

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.

Britt, 31, was accountable for his role in some communication issues against the Colts, 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 last 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.”

Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com

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