THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – At 38 years old, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth joked he can probably relate more to the coaching staff than some of the players in the Rams locker room given the age discrepancy.
That experience, however, is still valuable. In returning to the team by way of a three-year-deal, he'll be able to continue to mentor the offensive linemen and other young players in the organization as he often did the last three years both on and off the field.
"I mean, amazing (to be back)," Whitworth said on a video conference call with local media Thursday. "That was the goal all along – if I wanted to return and play, I wanted to stay here and play. Once I decided for sure and got the OK from family and everybody else that we were going to play football again, there was no other place I wanted to be than here."
Even before the deal became official, Whitworth still maintained that role both inside and outside the locker room.
Two weeks ago, he and Rams quarterback Jared Goff partnered with the L.A. Regional Food Bank to finance 2 million meals for the Los Angeles community by making $250,000 donations each. Whitworth said he and his wife, Melissa, are in the process of seeking more ways to help.
While he makes a point to give teammates their space during the offseason given the amount of time they spend together in-season, he's still checking in on them periodically to see how they're doing.
"There's certain guys that I've always had a certain relationship with that I talk to a lot, Goff being one of them because he's close with the family," Whitworth said. "There's always something to come up with a 20-something-year-old quarterback that he wants to talk about."
Similar to how he's approached previous seasons, Whitworth will continue to take things year-by-year entering his 15th overall and fourth with the Rams. He said he will continue to play "as long as there's always a desire to play and always a desire to train."
A big piece to that self-evaluation for any veteran in that position is seeing how they handle the rigors associated with training for an upcoming NFL season, offseason workouts and training camp, according to Whitworth. While that preparation looks different than past offseasons due to NFL teams closing their facilities in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Whitworth has adapted by converting his garage into a temporary home gym which "basically looks like the Rams' facility."
"Once you get to football season if you're a veteran and you're a healthy guy who stays healthy, you have the ability to adjust," Whitworth said.
Asked whether he feels any sense of responsibility to groom whoever succeeds him – regardless of how long he continues playing – Whitworth said it's more about mentoring the offensive line group as a whole than just the left tackle position alone.
"To me, that's something I think my entire career has been built around – really trying to support guys, be there for guys and make a difference in my room, and hopefully help those guys have great careers," Whitworth said.