It was the fourth and final preseason game last year when Detroit Lions fans got a bit of a taste of what Tahir Whitehead can do in the defensive aspect of the game. When he posted 10 solo tackles, and 3 sacks, the idea of seeing him play linebacker became much more than just a possibility.
After middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch was injured in week 3, Whitehead took over at the position and was more productive than most thought he would be. Heading into this season, he will be returning to the strong side. He has bulked up, as well, in an attempt to hang with the bigger tight ends at the end of the line of scrimmage.
“I got up to 245 this off-season,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “Tried to bulk up a bit, being as though I’m going to be back on the line of scrimmage playing Sam. Just try to be more stout in the run. I’m not saying I was terrible last year, but I’m my biggest critic and I feel like I could have been better.”
He did receive positive grades from Pro Football Focus, but Whitehead apparently doesn’t like the way he looked against the run.
“Watching back last season, sometimes in the run game, I wasn’t as sturdy as I could have been,” he told Mlive.com. “I bulked up a bit to be more stout against the run.”
Whitehead also received great praise from defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who said that last season’s opportunities helped him “tremendously.”
On top of competing for the starting linebacker job, Whitehead has been regularly drilling with the special teams units, which is where he was primarily used in his first two years.
Knowing that nothing is guaranteed, he has been learning a couple new positions, knowing that more knowledge of different positions will lead to the opportunity to see more time on the field. Based on what we saw last year, the expectations are high right now, and Whitehead is excited to contribute.