ALLEN PARK (AP) – Stephen Tulloch is a Detroit Lion in limbo.
The linebacker reached a one-year free-agent deal with Detroit over the weekend, and was in his new No. 55 jersey in time for Monday morning’s practice. Under the post-lockout rules, he and a lot of other players around the NFL can’t practice until Thursday.
“It’s tough to run a training camp right now,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after the workout. “It sounds crazy, because we’ve got 90 players in camp, but we’ve got 22 or 23 of them on the sidelines waiting to get started.”
That’s why Schwartz, who usually has the entire training camp planned to the minute long before it starts, can’t even decide when to hold his first practice in full pads.
“Do I do it before Thursday without these guys and put them behind, or do I wait?” he wondered aloud. “Every day, we’ve got several plans depending on how things go, because we’re having to work them back into shape instead of having them here all summer.”
Luckily for the Lions, once Tulloch gets on the field, he’ll be at full speed. He played for the Titans when Schwartz was the defensive coordinator, and couldn’t wait for the reunion.
“When I got drafted, the Titans were going to take a tight end, and the Packers picked him right in front of their spot,” he said. “Coach Schwartz went up to the draft room and told Fish (Titans coach Jeff Fisher) that I was the guy they needed to take. So when the free-agency period started, and coach Schwartz called me, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. It was really a no-brainer.”
Schwartz, though, wasn’t alone in his recruiting efforts. Shortly after his phone call, Tulloch got one from another former Titan.
“About a half hour after free agency started, Kyle (Vanden Bosch) called to tell me how great things were going here,” Tulloch said. “That made the decision even easier.”
Unlike most free agents, Tulloch won’t have to cram a new team’s defense into his head, having played the same system in Tennessee.
Last season, the Lions struggled at linebacker, but they hope that Tulloch and fellow free-agent Justin Durant will solidify things along with DeAndre Levy.
“This isn’t a situation where DeAndre has to play inside with Stephen moving outside or vice versa,” Schwartz said. “One of the things that we’ve continued here is to try to get multidimensional players – guys that are versatile to help us at more than one position. That’s the situation we have here.”
Tulloch doesn’t care if he’s inside or outside – he’s just eager to play behind Detroit’s impressive front four.
“You start with Kyle, and then you add Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and now Nick Fairley,” he said. “This is going to be a lot of fun.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)