Lions Rookie LB Getting Acclimated to NFL

Detroit Lions helmet (Kirby Lee/US Presswire)

When the Lions used a fifth-round pick to select Temple product Tahir Whitehead, most Lions fans were scrambling to find out who he was -- and not all were supportive of the selection. Thus far in training camp, he's been impressive.

ALLEN PARK -- Tahir Whitehead wasn't an oft-mentioned name leading into the NFL draft.

When the Lions used a fifth-round pick to select the Temple product, most Lions fans were scrambling to find out who he was and not all were supportive of the selection.

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham was amongst the group that was surprised by the selection.

"I kept looking at (Whitehead) and said ‘(linebackers coach) Matt (Burke), I'm not sure'," said Cunningham in June. "I've always struggled with linebackers because of how the college game is. Matt Burke said. ‘Gun, I believe this guy can play'. He's much better than a fifth-round draft choice."

As he continues to impress, Whitehead is simply enjoying the ride of his first NFL training camp.

"It has been a wonderful experience," said Whitehead. "Just learning how to get the tempo of practice, the grind of coming in day-to-day and just practicing everyday and just learning from the vets. Just getting ready for the preseason game. I've been enjoying it a lot."

Whitehead has been practicing with the second linebacker unit, along with Ashlee Palmer and Doug Houge. The team's first unit features veterans such as Stephen Tulloch, Justin Durant and DeAndre Levy.

The veteran presence of the starters will make it difficult – if not impossible - to crack the starting lineup as a rookie but could help expedite Whitehead's development.

"It's very helpful because all three guys know all three positions," said Whitehead. "I can ask anyone about a certain technique or whatever I have to do on the field. They can tell me because they play the position, it's a wonderful thing to have veterans in front of us that we can learn from."

Many questioned the selection but now Whitehead is quickly proving he belongs.

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