Carolina Panthers No. 3: Tahir Whitehead making the most of Luke Kuechly’s presence
Stepping into Luke Kuechly’s shoes in a tough ask for Tahir Whitehead in 2020. The perennial All-Pro called it a day after eight glorious seasons following the 2019 campaign. And his loss has the potential to have huge ramifications on the team’s chances going forward.
Whitehead is in an unusual situation during training camp. The presence of Kuechly is still evident on the sidelines after he was appointed as a pro scout by the Panthers. And this might be an unwelcome distraction from a pressure perspective from his instant replacement.
Instead, this is a situation that Whitehead is using to his advantage. And despite entering the league in the same draft year as Kuechly, the former Temple star is keen to lean on the potential Pro Football Hall of Famer for advice and guidance.
"“I still take advantage of the fact that Luke is in the building. I’m not prideful in any way, shape or form, or egotistical (to be) like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to talk to him just because he was here and everyone loved him.’ No — I love the way Luke played. Respect and more power to him because of the fact that he played the game at a high level for a long time. We came in in the same year, and I’ve always admired the way he played the game from afar, the big plays, the energy he played with. “When he’s on the field, I’ll ask him what he thought about certain things, what he’s looking at when dissecting runs or passes. I’d be a fool not to take advantage of the fact that he’s still around.”"
Getting tips and critique from Kuechly is something that is only going to aid Whitehead going forward. He was given a one-year, $2.5 million deal by the Panthers during free agency. But if he reaches or even exceeds expectations, then there is every possibility the linebacker can earn a longer stay with the franchise.
There is a lot of football to be played between now and then. But getting support from one of the best ever at the position is going to do Whitehead’s chances the world of good.