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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Whitner Shows Leadership Beyond his Years



Bills hope to back up Whitner's guarantee of playoff berth

Sal Maiorana

July 24, 2008


Ever since Donte Whitner came to Buffalo as the Bills' first-round draft choice in 2006, the strong safety from Ohio State has exuded leadership qualities not ordinarily found in players his age.

Now in his third NFL season, Whitner has become the heart and soul of the team. Lee Evans, Angelo Crowell and Chris Kelsay may be close, but the reality is that Whitner — all of 23 years old — is the guy at the front of the pack.

And even if you didn't think that was the case as recently as a month ago, you can't deny it now. Not after Whitner put himself on the line with a holy-cow-did-he-just-say-that comment to The Sporting News.

"Do I expect us to make the playoffs?" Whitner said, repeating a question that was asked of him. "I'm guaranteeing it."

You know the old saying: Don't write checks with your mouth that your body can't cash. In his youthful exuberance Whitner may have done that with his brash prediction because the Bills — while obviously improved — still have a difficult road ahead of them in the chase for an AFC playoff berth.

But you can't fault the guy for trying to light a fire under a team that has been flaming out for eight years.

"It's because of the chemistry we're building here," Whitner said, explaining why he believes the Bills are on the cusp of becoming a viable playoff participant at long last. "We're building it with good guys, good players."

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