Linebacker Tahir Whitehead wore No. 59 with the Lions and Raiders, but he didn’t make a big deal about changing numbers once he signed with the Panthers as a free agent this offseason.
Whitehead will be wearing No. 52 and the Panthers are unlikely to have anyone wearing No. 59 anytime soon as it was the number Luke Kuechly wore during his stellar career with the team. Kuechly retired after last season and Whitehead is expected to fill his spot in the lineup once the team hits the field.
Just as Whitehead didn’t make a big deal about his number, he’s not making a big deal about trying to mimic Kuechly on the field.
“For me, it’s just a matter of I’m my biggest critic,” Whitehead said, via the team’s website. “At the end of the day, Luke is Luke and I’m me. He plays the game differently than I do and vice versa. So I just have to go out there and make sure that I can execute my ability and my job within the scheme,” Whitehead said. “So making sure that I’m a good presence in the locker room, a good presence in the linebacker room, and making sure that I’m leading by example and not doing all of the rah-rah stuff. That’s just it.”
Kuechly has rejoined the organization in a scouting role and Whitehead said he’d “be a fool not to take advantage of him still being in the building” as he tries to help the Panthers Defense in its first season with head coach Matt Rhule at the helm.