Atlanta Falcons: Lofa Tatupu likely to miss start of camp

060612 FLOWERY BRANCH :  Falcons linebacker Lofa Tatupu stretches for team practice at Flowery Branch on Wednesday, June 6, 2012.  CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

060612 FLOWERY BRANCH : Falcons linebacker Lofa Tatupu stretches for team practice at Flowery Branch on Wednesday, June 6, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH –  Falcons linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who’s trying to make a comeback after sitting out last season, suffered a serious pectoral injury in the weight room this past Thursday and likely will not be available when the team opens training camp on Thursday.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith informed The Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jeff Schultz of the injury early Saturday. The team later reported it on their website.

Tatupu, who was signed to a two-year, $3.6 million contract in March, was slated to compete with second-year linebacker Akeem Dent, of Douglass High and the University of Georgia, for the vacated starting middle linebacker spot. Tatupu received a guranteed $600,000 signing bonus and has a $1.25 million playing time escalator clause in his contract.

Former middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who led the Falcons in tackles with 159 last season, signed with the New Orleans Saints during free agency.

Tatupu is set to see a specialist James Andrews on Monday in order to determine the severity of the injury.

“Pectoralis major muscle tears are relatively rare injuries that occur while lifting weights, particularly when doing a bench press,” according to The Journal of the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Tatupu’s availability will revolve around whether the pectoral was just strained or if it was ruptured.

If the injury is deemed a grade one strain, he could recover in a few days, according to noted author Jim Brown, who was formerly the editor of Georgia Tech’s Sports Medicine and Performance newsletter. Brown has written 14 books on health, medicine and sports. He contends that a grade two strain could keep a player out two to six weeks. If the injury is ruptured or torn, surgery would be required and full recovery would take months.

Tatupu, 29, a three-time Pro Bowler, didn’t play in 2011 after spending six seasons with Seattle. He was a first-team All-Pro selection after the 2007 season. He contemplated retirement, but elected to give it another try with the Falcons.

The Falcons hoped to receive a boost to their defense if Tatupu could return to the form of his early days in Seattle, when he made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons.

“We were very interested in having a guy who was going to add an element of grit, passion, fire and football knowledge that could be very beneficial to our defense,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said recently about the move to sign Tatupu. “It was like a total-package deal.”

Both Tatupu and Dent split time with the first-team defense during organized team activities and minicamp this offseason.

Tatupu has had injury problems in the past. He started all 16 games in 2010 after playing only five games in 2009 with pectoral and hamstring injuries. It is not known if the current pectoral injury is the same one he hurt in 2009.

There was speculation that the effects of concussions and other injuries caused Tatupu to miss last season. However, he insisted that he was healthy and that there was a lack of interest from teams around the NFL.

The Falcons were hoping that Tatupu’s body would benefit from the year out of football.

Before the injury, Tatupu was hoping to prove that he still had something left in the gas tank.

“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder because they told me I didn’t belong in this league in the first place,” Tatupu said.

Tatupu had 410 tackles, 10 interceptions and seven forced fumbles during his career with the Seahawks.

The Falcons, who released linebacker Matt Hansen on Friday, are presently thin at the linebacker position. Hansen’s release was termed by the team as a non-football injury. Hansen announced on twitter.com after minicamp in June that he suffered a ruptured patellar tendon and would miss at least the next four months after undergoing surgery.

Also, starting strongside linebacker Stephen Nicholas, did not take the field in the organized team activities nor minicamp because of a foot injury. He’s trying to return from a string of injuries that cut his 2011 campaign short.

With Tatupu’s injury and Hansen’s release, the team currently has 88 players available for camp, two below the training camp roster limit of 90. The Falcons will likely fill Hansen’s spot before the players report on Wednesday.

The team recently worked out veteran tight end Daniel Graham, but may now consider bringing in a linebacker.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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84 comments Add your comment

spud webb

July 21st, 2012
11:47 am

not a good start

FalconsToTheSuperBowl

July 21st, 2012
11:49 am

Sign Gary Brackett

Who Me?

July 21st, 2012
11:53 am

agree with spud, this guys a dud. He’ll miss the season with a torn pec now and we were counting on quality minutes???

SeenThisB4

July 21st, 2012
11:58 am

Did he, ehh, set a bounty on himself? LOL!

E Dub

July 21st, 2012
12:00 pm

Who me? No need to Speak of him like he’s a race horse or animal. These are real people.

@spencaman

July 21st, 2012
12:08 pm

You guys think he tried to hurt himself? Putting lots of hard work in to getting into football shape and then 6 day before camp he gets hurt has to be devestating to him. Lets hope it is not too serious. If an injury was to occur, at least it happened prior to cuts and not right before regular season so we can find someone else to come in and compete.

SirReal

July 21st, 2012
12:09 pm

Wow…this isnt good. I dont see it as an omen though. Other teams have experienced this and we honestly dont know yet what we’ll get from him. I hate it though b/c I was really looking forward to seeing what he can do and was/still am rooting for him in his comeback journey. Hopefully its not severe enough to keep him out for the year. We still need him. D Led, do you think Dent’s ready to rise to the occassion? He’s definitely got his shot now. You think they’ll bring in another LB or look at what we have?

Birdwatcher

July 21st, 2012
12:10 pm

Looks like Curtis Lofton will be this year’s Harvey Dahl.

SirReal

July 21st, 2012
12:11 pm

@Edub and Spenc I agree. These are REAL people and 6 days before camp has to be devasting indeed. I dont know what the Universe is trying to tell Lofa….but hopefully he’ll heal both emotionally and physically so he can bounce back. He hasnt been a bird long but he’s still a Falcon.

Birdwatcher

July 21st, 2012
12:13 pm

DOL – Do you know anything about Mike Peterson’s status?

MaxxFalcon

July 21st, 2012
12:13 pm

I believe in Akeem Dent but I’m getting nervous about our depth at LB. DOL- Is Stephen Nicholas healthy?

MaxxFalcon

July 21st, 2012
12:14 pm

I believe in Akeem Dent, but I’m getting nervous about our depth at LB. DOL- Is Stephen Nicholas healthy?

b

July 21st, 2012
12:17 pm

Mr. Lofa Tatupu, I hope you get back soon on the football field. I am looking forward to seeing what you can do for the Falcolns.

harlan

July 21st, 2012
12:37 pm

What’s the real deal with Akeem Dent everyone? Wouldn’t we have preferred that he win that job anyhow? I’d agree that if this seems long-term, we have to find some sort of competition to push Dent to actually win the job versus just being the default starter at the position. But given the draft pick spent on him and his tenure with the team, it seems like it’s time for him to break out.

can't figure it out...

July 21st, 2012
12:58 pm

First, they let Harvey Dahl get away which trashed the continuity of the right side of the O line,
then Lofton goes to our hated rival, and Lofa, who was good in his time, finds that his time might be past…
Where is Fulton Kuykendall when you need him?

The Real Falcon

July 21st, 2012
1:00 pm

We are in trouble at MLB and it’s not started yet.

can't figure it out...

July 21st, 2012
1:02 pm

I was looking forward to hearing Wes Durham came up with when saying Tatupu’s name, as in
‘ Tackle by the S.S. Babineaux’!

Bulldoghuff

July 21st, 2012
1:03 pm

Dent will be tha next dawg to play better n the pro ranks than in collage!!! GO DAWG!!!

Mr. Hankey

July 21st, 2012
1:03 pm

It’s now time for Akeem to “Dent” the lineup. Yuk yuk. I saw him live in Athens and the guy is a beast. Not worried.

dbird1

July 21st, 2012
1:08 pm

Everyone relax. the sky is not falling. there was alot of question marks around him to begin. now Dent get the full amount of reps. Dled. can we please be done with Seen and these other piles on this site. they bring nothing to the table.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 21st, 2012
1:20 pm

dbird1 — About to go through and clean up the trash. Was working on the story for print and trying to get y’all some updates. He’s going to Dr. James Andrews on Monday.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 21st, 2012
1:23 pm

Birdwatcher — Just know that they didn’t tender him. About to check up on him and his availability.

dbird1

July 21st, 2012
1:26 pm

thank you Dled. and thanks for the update

[...] to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,  Falcons linebacker Lofa Tatupu will like miss the start of training camp after suffering a [...]

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 21st, 2012
1:29 pm

SirReal — I know they are high on Dent. My UGA people have told me to watch for assignment and discipline issues. But he’s been well-coached and should be ready to go. I do expect them to make a move on a linebacker before camp starts.

Seattle Falcons Fan

July 21st, 2012
1:35 pm

Daunta will be in the game instead of a mlb…. That’s why lofton got let go. Dent will be fine. Remember Nolan plays a different defense than VanSucker.

rivercard

July 21st, 2012
1:58 pm

Bad news. I had some hopes for the D this year , but we needed some strong play from MLB to shore up the worst interior D talent in the league. Akeem Dent is not a legit solution and they know it.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 21st, 2012
2:29 pm

dbird1 — You are welcome!

[...] can return and bring what GM Thomas Dimitroff thought he was going to bring to the defense (h/t Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s D. Orlando Ledbetter): “We were very interested in having a guy who was going to add an element of grit, passion, fire [...]

[...] can return and bring what GM Thomas Dimitroff thought he was going to bring to the defense (h/t Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter): “We were very interested in having a guy who was going to add an element of grit, passion, [...]

Rev Blake

July 21st, 2012
2:37 pm

I think some of you were over confident in Tatupu in the first place. While he would have been a solid player, he never would have been an every down player again. I do hope the best for his health. Rumor mills suggest it is a serious injury, though.

I don’t believe that our poor interior defense was due to a lack of talent. It was always the scheming. I wish Van Gorder the best in college, but I always knew that college coaching was where he belonged. Never should have been the d-coordinator from day 1. I’m still convinced that was Blank’s decision (he loves those Georgia ties) and not Smitty’s.

Nolan will turn the tide on this defense. He was not high on Lofton (and he was right). Nolan’s schemes will make the most of all the talent we do have. Watch and learn fellow bird fans.

[...] can return and bring what GM Thomas Dimitroff thought he was going to bring to the defense (h/t Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s D. Orlando Ledbetter): “We were very interested in having a guy who was going to add an element of grit, passion, [...]

oldbird

July 21st, 2012
3:04 pm

Does Dimitroff require players to have injury issues before he signs or drafts them? Baker, Moore, Jerry, Manawau(sp?), Tatupu, Edwards and others that I can’t remember.

Chub Rock

July 21st, 2012
3:13 pm

Would like to see the Falcons kick the tires on MLB E. J. Henderson. 110 tackles last season and he claims he’s healthy. Lofa was only depth IMO anyway. Tatupu is injury prone, sit out a year and has actually contemplated retirement…this injury may speed up his decision. When guys start thinking about retirement, a lot of the fire is gone anyway. It’s the paycheck that makes them try again. The job is Dents to lose but a solid vet backup is needed. Peterson anyone??

jay

July 21st, 2012
3:54 pm

This is not good……

Rick

July 21st, 2012
4:41 pm

Go getem Dent! No comp just play!

donte080

July 21st, 2012
4:44 pm

Falcons will end up regretting letting Lofton take a walk….

Stupid

July 21st, 2012
4:54 pm

Tatupu was just an insurance policy. There are plenty of linebackers out there, they can adjust the defense to account for his absence. Maybe this will light a fire under one of the other linebackers to step up. No worries.

[...] not known, but it is expected that he’ll at least miss the opening of training camp next week per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC. Ledbetter terms the injury “serious.” Per Ledbetter, a grade one strain requires a few [...]

JSS

July 21st, 2012
5:39 pm

Jeff “Pec torn” Fish strikes again!!!

JSS

July 21st, 2012
5:42 pm

“Tatupu,” Is that a song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds? ;-)

Esquire

July 21st, 2012
5:45 pm

Falcons brass didn’t expect any miracles from Tatupu, his presence or absence does not control our destiny.

SeenThisB4

July 21st, 2012
6:05 pm

Linebacker was, and remains, the falcan’ts primary weakness on defense. This just further exposes the debility, the soft underbelly, on a more obvious basis.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 21st, 2012
6:20 pm

How would you all feel if the Falcons bring back Mike Peterson?

Mr. Jones

July 21st, 2012
6:27 pm

@Esquire couldn’t have said it any better

[...] UPDATE: Tatupu is now scheduled for a visit with the infamous Dr. James Andrews on Monday, which rarely seems to happen unless the injury is serious. Cross your fingers. [...]

Birdwatcher

July 21st, 2012
6:41 pm

DOL – I thnk Mike Pete is a fan favorite. Even at his age, he seemed to always make impactful plays. I always wondered why he disappeared after the injury.

Saints cheat & live off of pity

July 21st, 2012
6:46 pm

Are there more drunks or crack addicts living in new orleans? I know there are lots of both as well as the largest number of beggars in the US but where does the average taint’s fan spend most of his welfare check? At the liquor store or on the corner?

SeenThisB4

July 21st, 2012
6:59 pm

Mike Peterson, Come on! Even I wouldn’t wish that on the falcan’ts. They’re better off finding a youthful. undrafted free agent with some potential than a guy that was born before the country’s bicentennial was celebrated. Let the geriatrics enjoy their sunset years in their rocking chairs.

donte080

July 21st, 2012
7:14 pm

Dent better grow up fast….Peterson is what, 50? He certainly is not starter material anymore…..