The Tennessee Titans young linebackers like Zach Brown are fortunate.
Even though most of the linebacker corps is very young, there are a few experienced veterans they can turn to for help and advice.
Will Witherspoon, entering his 11th NFL season, is at the top of that list.
Although the Titans drafted Brown in the second round to eventually take over at weakside linebacker for Witherspoon, the old pro doesn’t mind showing the younger players like Brown, Colin McCarthy and Akeem Ayers the ropes of life as an NFL player. It’s not unlike what Matt Hasselbeck is doing for Jake Locker on the other side of the ball at quarterback.
“I haven't been doing this for 11 years for no reason. I'm bound to have done something right,” Witherspoon said. “So I try to tell them the best avenues to take and the best way to approach situations and put that in their hands. Here's how you do this. Do this, this way, and you just try to establish ground rules for how to be a better pro.”
Witherspoon recalled his old Carolina Panthers days when he was the one learning how to be a pro, and had plenty of help in the locker room.
“Dan Morgan, Cory Minor, Mark Fields, and having Sam Mills as your coach wasn't a bad deal,” Witherspoon said. “Those guys set the groundwork for me, and I'm trying to set the groundwork for the guys coming after me.
"It is that pay it forward situation. You've got to pay it forward for your team, because if you just try and trash a guy and don't help him to help him become a pro, you're only hurting everyone else around him. You're hurting the organization. You're hurting yourself and you're hurting the team. You've got to build those guys and help them be the best possible player they can.”
Brown says he is already learning from Witherspoon ways to improve at the NFL level.
“I'm learning a lot. He's a vet. He's been in the game for over a decade. I can learn from him by just sitting and watching him and seeing how he practices,” Brown said.