Expectations are that Chicago Bears center Cody Whitehair will continue to snap the football to quarterback Mitch Trubisky in the 2020 National Football League season.
Twice now, in his four-years with the Bears, the Abilene native started out as a guard only to get switched to center at the last minute.
At the end of this season, Bears coach Matt Nagy fired five members of his staff, including offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand who both worked with Whitehair.
But Whitehair was given a five year extension of his contract and Trubisky was given a one year extension. There have also been rumors that Whitehair could be hiking to the Patriots’ all-pro Tom Brady.
Speaking at Rotary last week, Whitehair said he expects to remain at the center position with Trubisky taking the snaps.
Whitehair was drafted 56th overall by the Chicago Bears to play guard. He played guard while playing at Kansas State University for four years.
He was at guard all through the Bears’ training camp as a rookie in 2016.
“It’s three weeks of misery,” Whitehair said of that first camp. “Sun up to sundown, they are beating you mentally, beating you physically in pads, hitting every day.”
Whitehair was getting prepared for the first game in 2016 on the road to Houston to play what he called “a very good defense.”
He was all set to start at guard despite being a rookie.
“All of a sudden my phone rings and it’s a Lake Forest, Ill., number. I’m thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ I called my Mom (RaeLyn Swisher). ‘Mom, I’m getting cut. I had a horrible camp,’” he said. “I’m coming home. I don’t know what Plan B is.”
He was told, however, he was moving to center, a position he had never played.
To make matters worse, the nose tackle for Houston was Vince Wilfork who had played 12 years with the New England Patriots and in three Super Bowls.
“I’m a rookie and this guy is like 480 pounds,” Whitehair said. “With all the crowd noise, I was sweating. That was my ‘Welcome to the NFL experience.’”
Cody played mostly center for the next four years and was an All-Pro Bowl selection last year.
Back at guard
When the 2019 season started, Whitehair was moved back to guard.
He played the first five games at that position. James Daniels, who was a center in college, was the new center.
But after eight games at guard and just seven days before the Nov.10 game with the Lions, Whitehair was moved back to center.
“They called me right during bye week and said, ‘Hey, we are going to move you to center.’ I had to do it within a week,” he said.
But Whitehair had been the snapper for his first three years in the NFL.
“It was a pretty easy transition for me,” he said.
He said he prefers playing center.
“My experience is there. More so than guard in the NFL,” he said. “I have really got to understand the offense from a different perspective at center.”
He said he spends a lot of time with the quarterbacks.
The center is the quarterback of the offensive line.
Whitehair said it’s the center’s responsibility to find the blocking assignments for the five offensive linemen.
“I’m communicating with all those five guys in 40 seconds so we don’t have a 330 pound defensive tackle in the backfield,” he said. “I’m communicating with all other five guys to tell them where we are going.”
“My coaches and my trainers growing up taught me that you have to take care of your body,” he said. “You have to eat right. You have to lift weights. You have to lift heavy to be able to sustain a 17 week season.”
Whitehair said his body is his job.
“I have to take care of my body to be able to provide for my family,” he said.
A player’s weight and hydration is monitored before and after each game.
If a player loses a certain amount of weight, they have to either get an IV or drink fluids to bring that weight up before they can leave.
After about a month off at the end of the season, training continues during the off season.
“After the Super Bowl, unless you are in the Super Bowl, you get back at it as far as heavy lifting, doing yoga, Pilates, to still work flexibility in your strength,” he said. “Your program is going to be what you are doing in the season. Your body in the off season is already training for what it is going to go through in the regular season.
The Bears played the San Francisco 49ers last year. The Bears lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 26-2 on Dec. 22.
Whitehair was asked for a Super Bowl prediction next Sunday between the Chiefs and the 49ers.
“Kansas City’s offense is hard to stop and they are playing good defense right now, too. So I like the Chiefs,” he said.
Contact Tim Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org.