By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch calls the 2012 season a humbling experience.
Tulloch, who battled tendinitis last year, when the Lions finished with a 4-12 record, thought about the season-gone-wrong throughout the rest of the winter, spring and summer.
“I was sick all offseason about it,” Tulloch said. “I used to go to the weight room, I used to think about it. Training, think about it. Just last season left a really bad taste in my mouth and left a taste in my teammates’ mouth.”
Needless to say, Tulloch is ready to turn the page. He said he thinks the Lions have made moves that will make that happen. Adding proven veterans like running back Reggie Bush and safety Glover Quin was part of the equation, but Tulloch said it also made an impact that the Lions parted ways with players whose impact was not positive.
“We put the distractions behind us from last year, we got rid of some players that were kind of dragging us down,” Tulloch said, “and we’ve got players here that want to win and understand what it takes to win.”
Improving the defense, Tulloch said, starts with the defensive line.
“The way this defense goes is off our defensive line,” Tulloch said. “When I was in Tennessee we had Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse, and that’s always our bread and butter. Our linebackers clean up off the D-line, our secondary gets interceptions off their pressure. That’s how it is, and we understand that.
“D-line’s the lifeblood of this defense.”
Even though there is transition in the defensive line, between Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, who is back from injury, Tulloch is not worried.
“Jason Jones, he’s played in this defense in Tennessee,” Tulloch said. “Adding big guys like [Israel] Idonije and Ziggy [Ansah] and those guys, they help us. Coach [Jim] Washburn and Coach [Kris] Kocurek do a great job coaching the D-line.
“Coach Washburn’s probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever seen in the National Football League in my career, and to have him a part of this team and to help not only the D-line but pick up everybody along the defensive side of the ball and the offense coming together, that’s something to be excited about going forward,” Tulloch added.
Finally fully healthy again, Tulloch said the difference in how his body feels now versus how it felt last year is night and day. Linebacker Travis Lewis could tell.
“He’s having more fun, definitely,” Lewis said. “We’re laughing a lot more in the meeting room, we’re all bonding out there down on the field, we’re rooting for each other. You can really see that in his play.
“He’s young again,” Lewis added. “Eight years in the league for him, but he’s out there and he’s laughing and he’s having fun, and I think that’s the biggest thing for him.