Detroit Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch has been placed on season-ending injured reserve with an ACL injury, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell announced Monday.
“Obviously he’s been disappointed.” Caldwell said before practice on Monday. “One of our real fine team leaders, but obviously he’ll still be around, helping our guys with a little instruction and things of that nature. Young guys have a tendency to heal quickly, so hopefully he’ll have a great healing process and be ready to go for us in the future.
“Just like anyone else that has great passion for the game, loves the game, loves to play, as spirited as he is, guys will always be a bit disillusioned for a short bit of time, but he’s also a fighter as well,” Caldwell continued, “so expect him to be rehab like he always does everything else, full go, and he’ll get back soon.”
Most believe that Tulloch’s injury occurred in the first quarter, after Tulloch sacked Rodgers on a third-and-10. He leaped up and celebrated with Rodgers’ trademark “discount doublecheck” — but his left knee gave out, causing him to fall to the turf.
However, Caldwell did not confirm that the injury occurred on the celebration. Stating that he wants players to have enthusiasm and that injuries during celebrations are freak events, so he will not set any parameters on the type of celebrations players can do.
“Am I going to go with some kind of protocol that all of a sudden says, hey, never jump in the air, never do this, never do – I’m not going to do that.”
“It’s not going to happen.” Caldwell said. “This is an emotional game. This is a game where guys have to go through quite a lot in order to get accomplished what they’re trying to get (accomplished). It’s tough. Often times you’re trying to defeat two to three people to get something done, and when it does indeed happen, when a guy lays it on the line, gives everything he has, it’s kind of an emotional reaction often times, and it’s tough to keep that under wraps. I think scoring touchdowns is a little bit different, but we want enthusiasm.”
While I’m sure there are some who don’t agree with Caldwell’s stance on celebrating. None of that changes the fact this is a big blow to the Lions defense and to their team as a whole. For starters, he is the vocal leader of this team and who is also responsible for calling out defensive calls Sunday. Then if that’s not enough, Tulloch is just a great player who is tackling machine both in the back-field and in the open field.
At 29 years old, Tulloch was considered to be the modern-day “Iron Man” of the Lions considering that he has not missed a game since he was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2006.
“Anytime that you lose anyone, and particularly a guy like that who has the experience he has and has played as well for you, it’s a loss there. And it’s one that, unfortunately, in our game, happens all too often,” Caldwell said. “It’s a very physical game and, with it, comes consequences that are very difficult to deal with.”
Nevertheless, with Tulloch out, I think it’s safe to say that a few Lion linebackers will see their roles expanded including linebacker DeAndre Levy, who could very play a more prominent role at middle linebacker. Now to be clear, Caldwell didn’t confirm that Levy will be moved to middle linebacker position while Tulloch is out, but I still think it’s a good chance he will be moved.
Levy was terrific on Sunday while finishing the game for Tulloch. Not to mention he finished with a team-best 10 tackles, including one for loss, and defended two passes, one of which was in the end zone, during a key drive.
Plus, the Lions can feel good knowing that they can also count linebackers Tahir Whitehead and Ashlee Palmer, who was a starter last year.
While there is no doubt that, the Lions will miss the presence of the Tulloch on the field and in the huddle. Lions fans can feel good knowing that the Lions know how to deal with injuries and that they have players who are more than ready to step up.
We have seen it at the safety position, with Isa Adbul-Quddus who is playing in place of safety James Ihedigbo. On Sunday, we saw former practice squad member and rookie cornerback Mohammed Seisay step up in the nickel position along with new Lion cornerback Danny Gorrer, who also stepped in on Sunday and played well at the nickel.
We have seen many more players step up their game over the last three weeks, despite the injuries issues that the Lions have had. So that’s why even in this moment, I say that fans can feel a little good knowing that the Lions can handle the loss of Tulloch.
“I think you saw from the number of guys that we had that were playing in roles where they had not been playing previously due to injuries, guys step up,” Caldwell said. “I think you’ll see them step forward and play well.”
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Editor of Radio One Detroit
For more of L-Beasley’s (Lauren Beasley) sports news and in-depth sports content, click here.