Atlanta Falcons: Lofa Tatupu out for the season

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

On a day when the Falcons’ fans received their season tickets, they also got some bitter news.

Former Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who was trying to make a comeback after sitting out last season, had pectoral surgery Tuesday that will knock him out for the 2012 season, according to head coach Mike Smith.

With the Falcons looking to replace leading tackler Curtis Lofton, Tatupu and Akeem Dent worked out with the first-team defense during the offseason.

Tatupu suffered the injury Thursday in the weight room and went to specialist Dr. James Andrews on Monday.

“We got a second opinion,” Smith said. “The second opinion confirmed the first opinion. He had a procedure done today and he will be out of the season.”

In other injury news, Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas (big toe) and offensive tackle Lamar Holmes (foot) have been cleared for training camp as the players are set to report Wednesday. While starting defensive tackle Corey Peters (foot) has not been medically cleared.

“[Peters] will have a follow up physical in about three weeks,” Smith said. “Corey is not going to be participating in training camp. We should have some more clarity in a few weeks.”

 Tatupu signed to a two-year, $3.6 million contract in March. He received a guaranteed $600,000 signing bonus and had a $1.25 million playing time escalator clause in his contract.

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.

In light of the injury, the Falcons are not sure if Tatupu plans to retire.

“Lofa just had the procedure done,” Smith said. “I haven’t had a conversation with him. We just want Lofa to get as healthy as he can. Right now, I’m sure that’s probably the farthest thing from his mind.”

On Monday, the Falcons signed veteran linebacker Mike Peterson, who can play all three linebacker positions and help Dent get ready for the season.

“Mike Peterson gives us some flexibility,” Smith said. “Last year, we drafted Dent as a middle linebacker. Now, he has the opportunity to grab that position.”

Peterson, 36, was a starter in 2009 and 2010 before shifting to a reserve role last season. He received a $50,000 signing bonus and a base salary of $910,000 in 2011. He was not tendered an offer, when his contract expired on March 13.

In 2011, he started five games and played in 15 before going on injured reserve with a torn triceps that required surgery.

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

His departure left a hole in the middle of the defense.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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152 comments Add your comment

Bell Bottoms

July 24th, 2012
4:49 pm

Well Damn! I just received my seasons tickets in the mail today. This is not good!

JSS

July 24th, 2012
4:50 pm

Cap hit and Jeff “Torn Pec” Fish strikes again!!! Double play!!!

Falcons Girl

July 24th, 2012
4:56 pm

Great news to start off a season that hasn’t even started yet :(

Runner-

July 24th, 2012
4:58 pm

Any chance we can save sone money if we cut him now?

DJ Sniper

July 24th, 2012
4:59 pm

I hate that this happened, but let’s be honest: Lofa was an insurance policy at best. It would have been nice to have him as a back up, but this injury is not going to set our team back.

I will, however, be keeping an eye on Corey Peters and when he will be medically cleared. All previous indications were that he will be ready for camp.

E-Roll

July 24th, 2012
4:59 pm

Well this is where our G.M. has excelled in recent years by picking up a cap casualty or late cut player and plugging them in and they contribute so it is time for T.D. to work his magic again. The Falcons still have a little cap room to pick up a player let go by another team right, D.O.L.?

PMC

July 24th, 2012
5:01 pm

That’s too bad. Hope you get better soon Lofa.

rodfalconi

July 24th, 2012
5:01 pm

I hope Dent is ready, the door just opened up for him, now its up to him

PMC

July 24th, 2012
5:03 pm

Razor thin at LB. Wonder what they are going to do for special teams.

mountain_jim

July 24th, 2012
5:05 pm

Dent better be good, should have kept Lofton.

mountain_jim

July 24th, 2012
5:05 pm

Yes, Razor thin. If Dent gets dinged, who plays MLB now?

VinceVanGo

July 24th, 2012
5:06 pm

Let the Buyer Beware! Previous serious medical problems usually become current medical problems. A gamble gone bad. But at least Arthur Blank has deep pockets unlike Liberty Media & the Hawks owners. We need an Arthur Blank clone for the Braves & Hawks.

EGGHEAD

July 24th, 2012
5:07 pm

I guess the weight room was a little too much.

Looks like little Tommy D...

July 24th, 2012
5:09 pm

…has his work cut out for him – and how do you get a season ending injury BEFORE training camp even starts? And a chest injury at that – what a sissy…and what a waste of $600K…and Lofton is laughing all the way to the bank, even though he has no coach…

Josh

July 24th, 2012
5:09 pm

Paging Curtis Lofton… oh wait.

buckhead benny

July 24th, 2012
5:11 pm

I guess there goes the cliche “No Pain, No Gain” D. Orlando-

Dallas Cowboys

July 24th, 2012
5:12 pm

sorry falcons better get ready for nov 4th when my cowboys come home to the site of one of thier five superbowls……………………….

Nique

July 24th, 2012
5:19 pm

We should bring in Channing Crowder as well now

section 126

July 24th, 2012
5:20 pm

Better now than during the season. We can replace him without losing anything! RISE UP!

falconsrelax

July 24th, 2012
5:23 pm

Had a great feeling about Lofa to. I think he would have really fit in with what we wanted and made an impact. Its on dent now. Im honestly not afraid because he sat on the bench for a year and his tangibles were better than loftons. Falcons have to remember that we have nolan now. I totally different scheme from what BVG brought and we still finished 12th overall in a lockout year. All dent has to do is play DT to DT. Thats all, it sucks that lofa had to get injured again. I think its the way this has happened because honestly there was no clear WINNER for the job. If dent would’ve been named the starter after training camp fans would’ve been fine. Its the way this has happened because now all eyes are on dent. I think hes fine. He has to grow up fast in coverage though. Thats going to be the problem and I think that was what lofa was for. Dent is going to get ate up in coverage the first half of the season. As far as tackling Im not worried

[...] Falcons have announced middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu is out for the season after suffering a pectoral injury in the weight room last [...]

johnm

July 24th, 2012
5:27 pm

So what. I mean really who cares. All tatupu was good for was pushing dent to be better. Well be fine. Happy to have peterson back and hoping we get crowder

Greg from Marietta

July 24th, 2012
5:29 pm

DOL – If a player is injured and can not play and is out for the season can the team salvage any of his CAP allocation to use on a replacement player?

tt44

July 24th, 2012
5:30 pm

yep…history of injuries, unfortuante..that is why I am concerned about the o tackle we drafted….history of injuries…..oh my good ness…Go Falcons!

SirReal

July 24th, 2012
5:30 pm

I hate it for him. I was looking forward to seeing if he could bounce back. I guess the Universe has other plans for him unfortunately. I guess that ESPN Analyst was right. He was a low risk “gamble” and its a good thing it happened early. Dent, let’s see what you got.
I see some people freaking out about this but IT’S EARLY…..and every team has injuries. It happens. Harsh reality. I think we’ll be fine as long as our key guys get through camp alright. Plus in Nolan’s D, the MLB is important but not the focal point. He’ll figure something out for 3rd down. The guy’s one of the best at what he does. I hope Peters can make it back in time though. We need him. Hopefully Holmes can PLEASE show some real flashes at LT that will at least make the staff add him to the mix. I still dont like Baker at LT….

Waffle House

July 24th, 2012
5:31 pm

Were is “The Hammer” Jessie Tuggle when you need him; come on hammer one more time!!!

Saints R.E.A.M.

July 24th, 2012
5:43 pm

There really aren’t any good backers for TD to pickup….just a bunch of retreads …and any player that gets cut will be seriously flawed & damaged goods…the Falcons will be patching this defense together all year. And I have a serious feeling the Falcons will be pushed around by teams that commit to the running game. Enjoy!!!

Big Crimson 75

July 24th, 2012
5:51 pm

Hello Gary Brackett & hello Channing Crowder !!

AlanFalcon

July 24th, 2012
5:51 pm

Peterson is a liability because of his age and the Falcons would not have cut him if they thought he had anything left in the tank, if you don’t understand, he is a reach. TD needs to go to work and hopefully had someone other than Peterson out there.

John

July 24th, 2012
5:52 pm

Ugh, this is really disappointing news.

John

July 24th, 2012
5:54 pm

Everyone needs to take a breath and exhale. In DC Mike Nolan’s defenses middle linebacker’s are important but not essential. It is more import for the D-line and D-backs to be above par. Akeem Dent will do fine and excel in the scheme. We could get one more just for depth.

zgoldatl

July 24th, 2012
5:55 pm

Just got my tickets in the mail. Rise Up Atlanta

Columbus

July 24th, 2012
5:55 pm

Always trades boys,

always can be a trade….

Or Keith Brooking

Really?

July 24th, 2012
5:55 pm

too bad… how about the return of Keith Brooking? Maybe in the new defensive scheme he would be an asset. Cowboys let him go I believe. Yes, not a long term strategy etc, but serviceable I think

Tom E. Gunn

July 24th, 2012
5:56 pm

Falcan’ts are losers. Loser franchise in a loser town with loser fans. Always has been. Always will be.

Just Sayin.....

July 24th, 2012
5:59 pm

I ask again…..Why so much love for Dimitroff when all he does is draft and sign players with injury prone backgrounds?

Bucky Badger

July 24th, 2012
6:01 pm

Tom G = Aints Fan Loser!

[...] AJC caught up with Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith about the condition Lofa Tatupu is in “We got a second opinion. “The second opinion confirmed the first opinion. He had a procedure do… [...]

Mike Franklin

July 24th, 2012
6:05 pm

One word… starts with an ‘F’ and ends with !

kbb

July 24th, 2012
6:06 pm

ALL TD does is pick up bargain basement thrift shop players off the scrap heap. Im sure he will go sign some other broke down injured guy to fill in. We never get the big names, just good guys with huge question marks

Paddy O

July 24th, 2012
6:06 pm

If the Falcons were authenticallly counting on this guy, whoops – another bimbo move. Injuries are not typically isolated.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 24th, 2012
6:07 pm

runner – Not that much.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 24th, 2012
6:08 pm

E-Roll — Not that much. They are up against the cap.

Big Dude

July 24th, 2012
6:08 pm

Hey… He never was a part of the team. Had not officially made the team. Never made it to training camp… Falcons never had him; Falcons not missing anything. Just Arthur missing the $ he paid him up front.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 24th, 2012
6:10 pm

Greg from Marietta – It won’t really matter because he won’t be in the top 51 contracts. Team is out of the $600,000 guaranteed if he never plays again.

First time Season Tix Holder

July 24th, 2012
6:18 pm

OK….I just got my season tickets and on the front is says two thousand twelve season tickets, but when I open it, there are only ten tickets. Who do I complain to?

Fred ™

July 24th, 2012
6:23 pm

Are you shi****** me? I was SO looking forward to watching that animal whips some serious ass for us. Well hopefully he will next year, but in the mean time, just damn. I see that as a serious blow.

Fred ™

July 24th, 2012
6:24 pm

LOL First time season Tix holder. I think you need to go get Arthur to give you the other 2000 tickets.

North Ave FTW

July 24th, 2012
6:25 pm

Dimitroff is the bust here…..sold the farm for a decent receiver, cant find anything in everyones trash heap, and hasnt had a B+ draft yet…….dude has got to go!

Mike Franklin

July 24th, 2012
6:26 pm

There’s a lot that comes with pride and yes, it is a sin. But if you’re a football fan, or a player, there is nothing like a little humility to smooth the field.

The Falc’s are in a tough spot now. The loss of Tatupu could be like the arrow that killed Achilles. It came from nowhere and took out a critical part of the war.

To Keith Brooking – The Falcons sent you packing after a long and distinguished career in Atlanta. In return, you showed your anger and pride in a game when there was a vengeance factor.

Time goes on.

To the Falcons organization and to Mr. Brooking, I suggest that if there is an empty slot for a LB on this team that old animosities be set aside. Let’s bring Keith home to finish his career and earn the spot that he had already earned.

Play like hell. Win. No one will care when it’s all over if we get to where we all want to be.

I’m done.