LIONS INSIDER

Tahir Whitehead named Yale Lary Special Teams Most Valuable Player

Posted Jan 9, 2014

Whitehead was one of three players (John Wendling and Don Carey other two) the Lions submitted to the 31 other NFL teams for consideration for Pro Bowl specialists voting

Tahir WhiteheadTahir Whitehead on the last day of the football year, toting his team awards.

Linebacker Tahir Whitehead didn't make a huge impact on defense for the Detroit Lions this year, but the fifth-round pick in 2012 certainly made his presence felt on special teams.

Whitehead recorded nine special teams tackles and forced a fumble for the second consecutive season. He was one of three players (John Wendling and Don Carey other two) the Lions submitted to the 31 other NFL teams for consideration for Pro Bowl specialists voting among their players and coaches.

Whitehead's efforts this season as a core special teamer have earned him the Yale Lary Special Teams Most Valuable Player Award as voted by his teammates.

This award is given in honor of Yale Lary, an all-Pro defensive back who also was one of the NFL's greatest punters.

While Lary collected 50 career interceptions playing safety for the Lions, he became an even more valuable weapon on Detroit's special teams. Lary won NFL punting titles in 1959, 1961 and 1963, missing in 1962 by just 3.6 inches. Lary played in nine Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

Whitehead was part of the core Lions cover units that limited opponents to just 73.4 total kick return yards per game, which includes both punt returns and kickoff returns. That total ranks as the fourth best by the Lions since 1941 and lowest since 1993 (61.6).

Rookie Sam Martin became the first Lions punter in franchise history to average over 40.0 net punting yards in a season (40.4). He wouldn't have been able to accomplish that feat without terrific coverage units and players like Whitehead.