Whitworth Brings Consistency, Veteran Leadership to OL

Posted Mar 10, 2017

An 11-year veteran, new LT Andrew Whitworth immediately brings a sense of stability to the Rams offensive line.

Every good offense needs a solid left tackle. By bringing in former Bengal Andrew Whitworth, the Rams expect to have stabilized one of the most important positions on the field.

“I think you look at his career, he’s had a great career — his resume kind of speaks for itself,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said on Friday. “I haven’t seen, really, any falloff.”

While having Whitworth at left tackle will be an obvious benefit to young quarterback Jared Goff, McVay said the addition should also aid running back Todd Gurley’s production.

“You really look at what we’re trying to do, and Andrew’s going to be a big part of running the football more efficiently as well,” McVay said. “We have to get Todd going, he’s a very important part of what we’re trying to do. You really look at Todd and Jared, we’re excited about the improvements in what both these players that we’ve added will do to help our offense as a whole.”

At the age of 35, Whitworth instantly becomes the Rams’ oldest player. It’s a distinction he embraces, knowing that his experience can help elevate those around him.

“I’ve been through a lot, I’ve been through winning streaks, obviously [with the] Cincinnati Bengals,” Whitworth said. “The last couple of years, until this season, we’ve been to the playoffs a lot. But I also was there when we went 0-8. So I’ve been through going 0-8 and I’ve been through going 8-0. So, I have some experience in those areas and I know the different things that helped our team in those situations when we’ve been good and when we’ve been bad.

“I hope that I’ll get an opportunity to be something that can be somewhat of a rock and a foundation for this team in the sense that I have been through those things and I hope I can share that kind of wisdom with a young team.”

More than once McVay described Whitworth as a “pro’s pro” — someone who can be a leader in the locker room and help reinforce some of the values he’s looking to instill in the team.

“I think he’ll be a great example for a lot of these young, up-and-coming linemen that we feel really good about,” McVay said. “And being able to bring him for what he’ll offer in the meeting room and on the grass, as far as just the way that he prepares week-in and week-out, I think he’ll be a great example for the rest of those guys.”

Because Whitworth has played the entirety of his 11-year career in Cincinnati, free agency was a new experience for him. He said the amount of interest he received on the open market was flattering, but it was still a bittersweet decision to leave the Bengals in favor of the Rams.

“It was the end of a long time invested in a place and the excitement of a new adventure,” Whitworth said. “People that know me know I love challenges, I love adventures, I love to do new things. I think that, for me, when I realized that it probably wasn’t going to get done in Cincy, I wanted to find somewhere that I felt like I could go and make a difference and make an impact.”

The Rams made him feel that comfort early on in the process.

“I just felt that they were very persistent, and wanted to get it done,” Whitworth said. “That interest and that want out of it is one of the things, I think, when you’re looking for a home, obviously, someone that makes you feel like you’re going to be really welcomed is what you’re looking for.”

One of the factors that brought Whitworth to L.A. was the connection between McVay and current Washington head coach Jay Gruden — Whitworth’s offensive coordinator in Cincinnati from 2011-2013.

“There was some crossover, just in years past,” McVay said. “And I’ve always admired the way he’s handled himself.”

“From what I know of coach McVay and what I’ve followed around a little bit, knowing Jay Gruden and knowing a lot about them, having played for Jay, I was intrigued,” Whitworth said. “I really think he’s an exciting young coach.”

Being a veteran presence is clearly a positive, but Whitworth acknowledged his age is a factor at this point in his career.

“How much longer I’ll get to play? Who knows. But the reality is I feel like I can still go out every Sunday and help my team win,” Whitworth said.

That said, he’s stayed at the top of his game by switching up his offseason routine in recent years. Instead of sticking with purely lifting, Whitworth said he’s focused more on movement and staying active.

“I do everything from CrossFit to Orange Theory to hiking and just I stay outside all day every day,” Whitworth said. “I play a ton of golf. I just try to keep the body moving and I feel like I can be more athletic and more fluid the more I can keep myself moving, the more keep my body in great shape year-round.”

Whitworth signed a three-year deal with the Rams. And while he feels good, he said he’s not sure just how long he wants to play. Asked if he’d like to play into his 40s like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Whitworth chuckled a bit before answering.

“I don’t know, as a lineman, if that’s possible right now. Honestly, I just love playing the game, I love being a part of the locker room, I love pushing guys – all of us in the same direction,” Whitworth said. “As long as my body is capable of holding up and going through it, then I want to do it. I enjoy it and look forward to trying to play as long as I can.”