Bears notes: Cody Whitehair handles nerves, challenges well
HOUSTON — Give rookie center Cody Whitehair credit for being honest. It was his first NFL game playing a position he isn’t familiar with, and it was on the road against Texans mammoth nose tackle Vince Wilfork and superstar end J.J. Watt.
“I’m nervous for every game, but a different position than I’m used to playing, the nerves were a little bit higher,” Whitehair said after the Texans’ 23-14 win at NRG Stadium on Sunday. “But I felt like I handled them pretty good.”
Whitehair, the Bears’ second-round pick, actually played quite well, considering he moved to center last Monday after guard Josh Sitton was signed.
Whitehair’s most glaring mistake was a botched exchange between him and Jay Cutler during a failed quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches from the Texans’ 31-yard line in the first quarter.
“That was on me,” Whitehair said. “I just got to hike it up there a little bit higher.”
Cutler wanted to be blamed for his role in the mishaps — “It takes two to make that work,” he said — but he wasn’t surprised when told that Whitehair took responsibility first.
“He’s a team guy,” Cutler said. “That’s why we love him, and that’s why he’s going to be really good player.”
As a group, the offensive line had strong moments against the Texans, but it’s apparent that Whitehair, Sitton, guard Kyle Long and tackles Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie need more practices together.
“I’d say it’s just time and experience,” Cutler said. “It’s Cody’s first game out there, and [Sitton has] been with us for four or five days.”
When it came to challenging officials’ calls, coach John Fox made two interesting decisions.
Fox didn’t challenge the spot of the ball after Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler’s quarterback sneak on third-and-one from Bears’ 22 resulted in a first down. Broadcast replays showed that Osweiler might have been short of the first-down marker.
“You don’t do too well with challenges on spots,” Fox said. “If it’s not clear-cut, it doesn’t get changed. They executed their quarterback sneak better than we executed ours.”
Fox later challenged Texans receiver Will Fuller’s 35-yard catch on the sideline, but he conceded it turned out to be “just a long timeout.”
As expected, cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee) did not play. Jacoby Glenn started in his place.
Safety Harold-Jones Quartey underwent X-rays after the game and later had a brace on his right wrist.