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