Healthy Tulloch motivated to get Lions to playoffs
Allen Park, Mich. -- Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch can't wait to put the memories of the 2012 season fully behind him.
Despite struggling with tendonitis all season, Tulloch started all 16 games and recorded 74 solo tackles and half a sack.
"Last year was very difficult, very difficult ... probably one of the hardest years I've had to deal with in my career, playing through injuries," Tulloch said after the fourth day of camp.
"But now I've put that behind me, I feel the best I've felt in a long time. I tell you, it's like night and day. I'm glad to be back out here healthy and be able to help this team the way I know how to help them."
Tulloch was not the only one miserable last year as the team went 4-12, including an eight-game losing streak to end the season.
It was not how Tulloch and the Lions wanted to perform following a 2011 season in which they went 10-6 and made the playoffs.
"Last year was a humbling experience, not just for myself but for the whole team," Tullloch said. "It's something that we put behind us and we never want to have that feeling again. I was sick all offseason about it. I used to go to the weight room and think about it, training, think about it.
"Last season really left a bad taste in my mouth and a bad taste in my teammates' mouths so now that it's behind us and we can move forward. We added some players that can help us move forward. I think we're headed in the right direction."
Coach Jim Schwartz appreciates the way the veteran Tulloch fought to stay on the field, but appreciates even more the way Tulloch has looked in camp.
"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 off season. 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."
Tulloch had strong words for anyone who was concerned about the linebackers after veteran Justin Durant signed with the Dallas Cowboys this offseason.
"Whoever is worried about the linebacking corps should come out here and watch us practice and see what we're doing," Tulloch said. "We have experience. DeAndre's back, I'm back, I'm healthy, Ashlee Palmer's been around for a long time and the young boys, Travis Lewis and Tahir Whitehead, are getting better each day and we're fine.
"We're good. Our defense is getting better, our defensive line is a lot stronger than last year, secondary's a lot stronger. I think as a defense we're much better."
Now that Tulloch has his body feeling good, he believes he, along with some of the new players the Lions added, can help get the team back to where they want to be -- the postseason.
"This year I want to become more of a leader, help this team take it to the next level," Tulloch said. "This team is a playoff team. There's no question about it. We just gotta put it together. I think we put the distractions behind us from last year. We got rid of some players that were kind of dragging us down, and we got players here that want to win and understand what it takes to win.
"Bringing in guys like Glover Quin that have been in playoff games, bringing in Reggie Bush, been in playoff games, guys who are experienced and veteran leadership that can help us grow as a team and will definitely pay dividends in the long run."