View Full Version : CB Whitaker brings a 1-2 punch

06-03-2006, 05:16 AM
CB Whitaker brings a 1-2 punch

Mark Craig, Star Tribune

An awful lot of strangers were among the 45 rookies and select veterans running around in Vikings helmets during Friday's Organized Team Activity (OTA) at Winter Park. We stopped one of them, Ronyell Whitaker, coming off the field.

Given the cornerback's All-NFL Europe selection, his prior connection to defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin and the Vikings' alarming inexperience behind starters Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot, we figured Whitaker was as good as anyone to flag down.

"He's got a chance," said coach Brad Childress, referring to Whitaker's odds of making a team that has 10 cornerbacks, six of whom never played a regular season NFL game.

Whitaker has played four games, including one start, all as an undrafted rookie in Tampa Bay in 2003. He was on the Bucs' practice squad in 2004 and was with them in the preseason last year. Tomlin was his position coach each year.

We asked Ronyell what he did after the Bucs cut him last summer.

"Nothing," he said.


"Just at home with my grandma [Novella Whitaker]," Whitaker said. "I didn't have a job. I just worked out with my uncle down in Norfolk, Va."

Sounds like easy street. Then again, his uncle is former boxer Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker. Sweet Pea won the 1984 lightweight gold medal and world professional titles in four different weight classes.

"He trains boxers now," Ronyell said of his 42-year-old uncle. "A boxer's workout is probably the hardest workout you can do. I sparred with guys, hit the heavy bag, ran, jumped rope ... then, when I was done with that, I went and did football drills."

Ronyell said he came close to giving up the NFL dream and following his uncle into the ring.

"I can't say I was any good because I never had any fights," he said. "But I trained some when I was younger and I knew what it was like to be a boxer."

Two of Pernell's projects are Olympic lightweight hopefuls Rick White and Danny Foster. Pernell had them spar with Ronyell, who was the same size at the time, about 168 to 172 pounds. Ronyell, who is 5-9, is now listed at 196.

"They kind of took it easy on me," Ronyell said. "They knew that's their job, so they had better take it a little easier on the football player."

Thoughts of taking up boxing usually entered Whitaker's mind on Sundays when he watched NFL games.

"Your mind wanders when you don't have a job," he said. "You think about a lot of things."

Whitaker jumped at the invitation to play in NFL Europe. He was a second-round pick of the Rhein Fire. During a 6-4 season, Whitaker finished second in the league with four interceptions, including touchdown returns of 62 and 100 yards.

If Whitaker makes it in the NFL, he'll owe thanks to his grandmother, uncle and, oh yeah, future Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith.

Bruce Smith?

"Yeah," Whitaker said. "He and my uncle are tight. They live right next to each other in Virginia Beach. Bruce was telling me not to give up the dream, that some guys have to go to NFL Europe more than one year before they make it in the NFL."

The Vikings are Whitaker's best chance. Tomlin is implementing the same "Tampa Two" scheme that Whitaker already knows. And Whitaker wouldn't be here if Tomlin didn't like him.

"I know basically the whole defense, and we ran the same Cover Two in Europe," Whitaker said. "I think it's a huge advantage being here."

06-03-2006, 05:18 AM
Let's hope Ronyell breaks through and becomes the nickel back that we desperately need.

06-03-2006, 06:11 AM
I liked what I saw him do in Europe!! Hopefully he can come in and be just as good!!

06-03-2006, 12:59 PM
From KFFL;

Vikings | Whitaker has a chance to make the team
Fri, 2 Jun 2006 20:48:54 -0700

Mark Craig, of the Star-Tribune, reports Minnesota Vikings CB Ronyell Whitaker has a chance to make the team, according to head coach Brad Childress. Whitaker was an All-NFL Europe selection, has a prior connection to defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin and is a part of an inexperienced group of backups behind starting CBs Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot.

Six of the team's 10 cornerbacks have never played in a regular season NFL game. After getting cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last summer, Whitaker trained with his uncle and former boxer, Pernell Whitaker.

06-04-2006, 12:45 AM
i hope he makes it, could be a good nickle

06-04-2006, 12:50 AM
"DarrinNelsonguy" wrote:

Let's hope Ronyell breaks through and becomes the nickel back that we desperately need.

I'm with you on that..

06-04-2006, 12:54 AM
"VikesfaninWis" wrote:

"DarrinNelsonguy" wrote:

Let's hope Ronyell breaks through and becomes the nickel back that we desperately need.

I'm with you on that..

He has exerience with Tomlin so he should have a leg up on Devonte Edwards, and the rookie from Texas.