Cody Whitehair Says He's Geared Up for Starting Camp at Center
New Chicago Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo came about as close as possible to saying Cody Whitehair was the starting center when training camp begins.
Whitehair himself went one better.
In an appearance on Bears All-Access with Jeff Joniak, Jim Miller and Tom Thayer, Whitehair said he's looking forward to playing center at the start of this camp instead of where the Bears put him to start last season at guard.
"That's where I feel the most comfortable," Whitehair said on the team-generated radio program that airs on Thursdays. "Obviously I'm a team guy and I'll do whatever they ask me to do. If it happens to be where they need me to play a different position, whether that be July 28 when we come in the building or, you know, whenever that may be, you know I'm always down for it.
"But you know just being comfortable at that position and being played there for as long as I have in the NFL it's really exciting to be able to be there to start the season again."
The Bears started James Daniels at center and Whitehair at guard a season after Whitehair made the Pro Bowl as an alternate for the NFC at center. The line struggled and at midseason Whitehair returned to center.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy had been somewhat evasive through the offseason on pinpointing who would start here, but Castillo had said he thought Daniels could be a good guard. Daniels played guard after becoming a starter in 2018 and at Iowa had largely been a center but also played guard earlier in his career.
The Bears ran for 814 yards in the season's second half after Whitehair took over at center and Daniels moved back to guard. In the first half they ran for 644 yards with Whitehair at guard and Daniels at center.
Whitehair told Joniak, Thayer and Miller the ability to get the running game going was going to be critical.
"You want your offense to be able to count on that run and especially in obvious situations," Whitehair said. "You know, that's where an offensive lineman has really got to be, you know, at his best whether that be obvious pass or obvious run.
"So it's something we take pride in and in the run game everything starts up there up front and making sure we can get a hole open for those guys in the backfield because when we do that we're going to be dangerous."
Whitehair called the teaching of Juan Castillo completely different in relation to what the line has done in the past and thought they'd been taking to it well during the virtual install period in May and June.
"It was great," he told All-Access. "Juan did a great job as far as detailing things and making sure that we understand what he wants out of us, you know. So we felt it went really smooth."
Nevertheless, he acknowledged it will be difficult at first considering they haven't been on the field for offseason work.
"Yeah, it's going to take some time you know, but I don't think it will take us too long," Whitehair said. "You know, we're a pretty young bunch of guys. For the most part we've worked together, especially up front we've worked together for a couple of years."
The line is feeling a general sense of motivation based on how last season came down with an 8-8 record on the heels of a 12-4 campaign that included a division title.
"You definitely feel the anger and the sense of some unfinished business," Whitehair said. "But I guess the best way to sum up our virtual offseason would be motivated. I mean, we know how much we left out there. The season wasn't the way we wanted it to be in '19.
"So I would say the biggest thing is guys are motivated, guys are excited to get back to work and start the season."