Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Whitner Takes Rookie Under his Wing

By Mike Florio

June 23, 2008

Much was made a decade ago when Vikings receiver Cris Carter spent plenty of time with rookie Randy Moss in an effort to help the first-year player make a sudden impact on the NFL. It worked.

This year, Bills safety Donte Whitner has taken rookie corner Leodis McKelvin under his wing, and into his house, to help McKelvin reach his potential ASAP.

“It’s no mystery. We didn’t pick him No. 11 overall in the draft to sit on the bench,” Whitner said, according to the Buffalo News. “We picked him at No. 11 because he was the best corner available, he’s a unique talent and he can definitely help this football team. So it’s my job, the coaching staff’s job and everybody else’s job to help make sure his transition is smooth and make sure he gets on the field as soon as possible in order to help our team.

“When I came into the NFL two years ago, I didn’t know what to expect,” Whitner said. “He’s a rookie in a similar situation that I was in. I know what he’s going through, so I want to help him get through the process as quick and as painless as possible.”

Whitner also is teaching McKelvin how to conduct himself when no playing football.

“I’ll talk to him about how to handle yourself off the field,” Whitner said. “Things like how he dresses when he’s coming to the facility or when we’re at a team function and how to deal with people and surroundings that are not familiar to him. A lot of those things he already understands, but I just want to make sure he lives by the things that got him to this level.”

When Whitner was drafted with the eighth overall pick in 2006, many (us included) called it a reach. Every team should be so lucky as to reach for a guy who will become so quickly a leader, and who’ll influence young players to stay out of trouble.

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