Thursday, June 28, 2012
Lofa Tatupu tries to bounce back with Atlanta | NFL
Lofa Tatupu started to believe his career was over as he spent the 2011 season away football. After his release from the Seattle Seahawks...
By The Associated Press
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Lofa Tatupu started to believe his career was over as he spent the 2011 season away football.
After his release from the Seattle Seahawks before last season, Tatupu said his only chances with other teams were as an outside linebacker. Tatupu, a three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker with Seattle, wasn't looking to change positions.
When he realized he wasn't going to play last season he began to lose hope and considered filing his retirement papers.
"At a certain point, I just stopped working out," Tatupu said Tuesday. "I thought it was over. I was really ready to send those papers in."
A call this year from Tatupu's agent, Fletcher Smith, changed the linebacker's outlook.
"He called me and said, 'Do you want to go play?' " Tatupu said. "I said absolutely. He told me the options and I said 'Yes, I'm going to go work out right now.' "
One of those options was the Atlanta Falcons, who need help at the position after Curtis Lofton signed with the Saints.
Tatupu, 29, opened minicamp with the Falcons on Tuesday, competing with Akeem Dent for the starting middle linebacker job and relishing the rebirth of his career.
"I'm excited about the whole process and just being back playing ball again," Tatupu said.
Tatupu signed a two-year, $3.6 million contract with Atlanta.
Falcons coach Mike Smith said Tatupu is expected to push Dent, a third-round pick from Georgia in 2011.
"Lofa is a very experienced player and we anticipate he and Akeem should have a good battle this training camp," Smith said.
The Falcons re-signed many of their free agents but the loss of Lofton, who led the team in tackles the past three years, was significant.
"I just hope I bring the veteran leadership," Tatupu said. "I know Curtis, he's a hell of a ballplayer and I know they're missing that with his departure. I'm hoping to take up where he left off."