For those questioning the mentoring aspect of the Kansas City Chiefs recent influx of veteran leadership, look no further than OLB Andy Studebaker. Hailing from small school Wheaton College (D-III), Studebaker has been seeing time mostly on special teams.
"I figure I'm in on one out of every five or six plays on average, whether it is kickoff, kick return, punt return or whatever," Studebaker said. "Special teams are a big part of the game, especially in the NFL. It's a lot of fun, too."
But when called upon to take on a larger role as an outside linebacker, he'll be ready thanks to Mike Vrabel.
"He has taught me a ton," Studebaker told Randy Kindred of the Pantagraph. "He's the kind of guy who's an open door. He wants to teach you and help you. Before I met Mike I was like, 'Will he help me? Will I be on my own?' From day one, he's been a big-time mentor for me."
This is what Todd Haley has been talking about when bringing in guys like Vrabel, Zach Thomas and Mike Brown. We always talk about the "veteran leadership" aspect of the game but, from the outside looking in, we never really know what that means.
As Haley has said before, he wants that leadership to ooze down to the Chiefs younger players. In fact, Kansas City has the second youngest roster in the NFL.
"They want hard workers here who play smart football," the second year pro said. "If you do those things, you have a shot on this team."
Studebaker's been playing a role in a unit that Haley stresses as one of the most important parts of the game - special teams. At the end of the day, though, it's still football.
"You get to run down the field as fast as you can and hit people. It's still football on special teams. You still wake up sore on Monday morning."
So, when we talk about bringing in a veteran player as a stopgap who can help develop younger players, look to Mike Vrabel's impact on Andy Studebaker as evidence.