Thursday, May 31, 2012
Wilhite making most of opportunity in OTAs
By Jeff Dickerson
Jonathan Wilhite said the transition from Denver has been made easier by his teammates.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears' signing of free agent cornerback Jonathan Wilhite flew under the radar back in April, but the fifth-year defensive back has stood out in both OTAs open to the media at Halas Hall. With Tim Jennings sidelined Wednesday due to undisclosed reasons, Wilhite handled the first-team reps at cornerback, and intercepted an underthrown Jay Cutler pass at the start of team drills.
Wilhite also picked off a pass last week when the media was in attendance.
"The transition (from Denver to the Bears) has been really good," Wilhite said. "There are some great players and great coaches here who are willing to help. They have really accepted me in and been willing to help me out. It's been wonderful so far being around guys like Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.'
"Anytime you go to a new team you have to learn their specifics and terminology, but so far I've been catching. But I've also got guys around me who are making my transition easier."
Selected by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2008 draft out of Auburn, Wilhite is accustomed to seeing occasional time with the first team. He made 13 career starts for the Pats before playing last season in Denver where he cracked the Broncos' starting lineup twice.
"The reps have been good," Wilhite said. "I've had a chance to go out there and make calls and go against great receivers every single day. It's been really good for me."
Only time will tell if Wilhite will be given a chance to seriously challenge Jennings or one of the other cornerbacks on the roster for a starting job. Although Jennings was a spectator on Wednesday, the returning starter has by all accounts had a solid offseason program. The Bears also signed free agent cornerback Kelvin Hayden who is still working his way back from a variety of injuries the past few years.
"Right now that's (winning a starting job) not my main focus," Wilhite said. "It's learning the defense, doing the things I need to do to help the team anyway I can. Whatever happens, happens ... my thing is to come (here), know what I'm doing, know my assignment and execute it. Whatever the coaches decide to do they decide to do."