Stephen Tulloch back healthy after "difficult" 2012 season

Posted Jul 29, 2013

Tulloch admitted Monday that last season was one of the hardest of his career, having to play through tendinitis in his knee

Stephen Tulloch hasn't missed a game in seven NFL seasons. That comes out to 112 regular season games and three playoff appearances.

Stephen TullochLB Stephen Tulloch

That's an impressive stretch for a middle linebacker in the NFL, and even more impressive considering he played through a tough bout of tendinitis in his knee last season.

"Last year was very difficult," Tulloch admitted after the Lions' fourth training camp on Monday. "Probably one of the hardest years I had to deal with in my career playing through injuries."

The Lions monitored Tulloch's practice time in training camp and the regular season last year and he gave them another 16-game season and 112-tackle performance, but he wasn't the same. He wasn't 100 percent and it showed on the field. He didn't seem to have the same range or explosiveness we saw in 2011.

"I've put that behind me and I feel the best I've felt in a long time," Tulloch said of getting the knee taken care of this offseason. "It's like night and day. I'm glad to be out here healthy and be able to help this team the way I know how to help them."

Head coach Jim Schwartz has already seen the difference in his middle linebacker.

"I think the biggest thing is that he is healthy," Schwartz said. "He's a guy that will soldier through and play through just about anything. He's had to in the past. He's feeling good. I think that has shown in our offseason. It's shown early in training camp right now.

"We have two veteran linebackers, Tulloch and DeAndre Levy, and we have good competition for that third spot coming from some of the other guys. Both of those guys, Levy and Tulloch, are good leaders in that group. Both of them are very assignment sound. Both of them are good leaders and role models for the other players."

The Lions need that consistency in the middle of their defense to help glue all the new moving parts together. The Lions have new players at defensive end, linebacker, cornerback and safety.

That's better accomplished on the practice field and not the sidelines, which is why a healthy No. 55 is good news for the Lions defense.