Delmas back to his old self

Posted Feb 19, 2012

Toward the end of last season, Lions safety Louis Delmas wasn't the same person the media has grown used to.

The jovial, trash-talking Delmas was gone, replaced by a melancholy, quiet Delmas, who didn't want to speak with the media.

Delmas was never the same after suffering a sprained knee against the Packers on Thanksgiving. He missed the last five games of the regular season and wasn't near 100 percent when he returned in the Lions' playoff loss to the Saints.

Speaking to reporters Saturday at 97.1 SportsFest, where he was signing autographs, Delmas chalked up his late-season vow of silence to simple frustration.

"Anytime you can't go out and support your teammates, physically, it ‘s very frustrating," Delmas said. "I'm an athlete, but more importantly, I'm a competitor.

"Not being able to go out there and go to war with my teammates was very frustrating, but I tried my best to keep my head straight and just try and coach my teammates outside the field."

The Lions weren't nearly the same on defense without Delmas.

Through the first 11 weeks of the season, before Delmas was hurt, the Lions were holding opposing quarterbacks to a 69.0 passer rating.

Through the final six weeks of the regular season, including Thanksgiving, opposing quarterbacks raised their passer rating to 82.1.

There were other factors and injuries that played a factor in that - cornerback Chris Houston (knee) being one - but Delmas' absence had the biggest effect on the defense.

"When we lost (Delmas) the defense started struggling some," Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said during the season. "When he was out, you could tell there was a little bit of a different approach."

But Delmas said Saturday the knee is completely healed and that he could play a game if the Lions had one.

It was no coincidence that the fun-loving Delmas was back, too. Delmas was joking with fans and even trash-talking a little bit.

"I'm 100 percent now," he said. "I'm training 100 percent. I don't hold myself back."

Delmas is training in Florida this offseason with linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who is one of the Lions' key free agents to re-sign.

"Me and Tulloch have been pushing each other tremendously," Delmas said. "He's a hard worker and has big goals set out for us next year. We plan for big things next year."

It seems Tulloch wants to be back with the Lions next season, and the team will certainly do all it can to re-sign him.

Delmas said it was important for the Lions to re-sign Tulloch and some of the teams' other free agents, especially on defense.

"I think this team finally has chemistry, something we haven't had in a long time, and this specific group of guys gets along with each other very well," he said.

"We compliment each other very well. I think everyone deserves to get re-signed back here and I hope everyone (I) played with last year, I have a chance to play with again."