Stephen Tulloch is ready to step into a leadership role

Posted Apr 21, 2013

As the most experienced starter on defense, Stephen Tulloch is putting pressure on himself to lead his teammates in 2013

Stephen Tulloch knew his place in the hierarchy of the Lions' leadership on defense last year. Despite the fact that he was voted a team captain, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams were the elder statesman and the vocal leaders.
Stephen TullochLB Stephen Tulloch

But the Lions began their offseason training program for the upcoming 2013 season this week without Vanden Bosch or Williams on the roster. That leaves Tulloch, who’s entering his eighth NFL season, as the most experienced starter on defense.

“I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself this year,” Tulloch said. “I’m going into year eight. I love the game of football and I want everyone to have the same passion I have for the game.

“I think it’s my responsibility as a veteran in this league and on this team to bring that leadership and let the other guys follow my lead. Anybody who’s lagging behind, grab their hand and pull them forward.”

He dealt with tendinitis in his knee all year last season, never competing at 100 percent. He was forced to miss practices so he could stay on track to play on Sundays. That may have contributed with him taking a quieter, lead-by-example approach.

Tulloch is one of the pieces the Lions have decided to build around after signing him to a five-year, $25.5 million contract last offseason. That comes with an inherited leadership role – just like there now is with Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Chris Houston.

Tulloch wouldn’t confirm if he had a procedure done this offseason to alleviate his knee pain, but he did say he’s now the healthiest he’s ever been in his career.

With that, he says he’s ready to step to the forefront on defense. He wants to be that guy in the middle of the pack when the Lions gather together one last time before a game.

“I want to be that guy,” Tulloch said. “I’ve been around this game a long time. I’ve always wanted to do that. You know, Kyle (Vanden Bosch) was a guy I always looked up to, so I let him do his thing, but it’s time for me to take that role on and lead by example both on and off the field and put things together.”

NO JAHVID BEST: Lions general manager Martin Mayhew confirmed that running back Jahvid Best, who hasn't played since October of 2011 after suffering a concussion, is not participating in the offseason conditioning program.

Best rushed for 945 yards in his first 22 games as a Lion and still has two years left on his contract.  

UPDATE ON SPIEVEY: Safety Amari Spievey, who was arrested last month on three charges stemming from a dispute over child-support payments, is excited to get back to work, according to Mayhew.

“I have not seen him. I’ve been in contact with him, though,” Mayhew said. “He’s healthy, he’s ready to go, he’s excited about getting back into the program.

“It’s unfortunate he came in as a rookie, moved to a safety, started two years for us and started having injuries and hasn’t really been the player that he was then. But he’s excited and fired up and ready to go.”