Failure in Cincinnati weighs heavily on Cardinals OL Lutui

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Deuce Lutui insisted he has a new commitment to losing weight, that the debacle that was his free agency flop in Cincinnati has opened his eyes.

Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said the guard had better be serious, because the Cardinals are not going to be patient as Lutui tries to take off the pounds that cost him millions of dollars when he flunked his physical last week with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Lutui, who signed a two-year deal with Cincinnati, weighed in at 381 pounds, and that was enough for the Bengals to send him toward the door. The Cardinals gave him a one-year deal, and Whisenhunt gave him a strong talking to once the big lineman arrived on Monday night.

And that talk, the coach said, wasn't "over a meal."

"I see a commitment but I've got to see it over time," Whisenhunt said. "That's the big thing. I made it very clear to him about that. ... Deuce seems willing to work at that but our patience is not going to be very much. I'm not going to have a lot of patience with that."

This isn't a new issue. Lutui reported to camp overweight a year ago, and it's been an ongoing problem.

Lutui, one of the more likable players on the team, said he was glad to be back with the Cardinals, who drafted him out of USC in the second round in 2006, and attempted to look at this as an opportunity, not the severe setback it appears to be.

"I guarantee it's a renewed commitment," he said. "It's everything that says `Hey, this is my integrity.' I'm doing this because you're telling me but it is for myself, my whole health and everything like that."

He said, "This whole situation will alter the way I play this season. I tell you, it will elevate the way I think, the way I eat, of course, and just playing football. I'm a nasty guy and I'll take the trash out on the field, you know what I mean?"

Lutui said that being with his old teammates will make his challenge easier to face.

"The boys and everything just make me have that much confidence to push this thing one more time," he said, "and have another run at it."

He repeated that "I've always said I can play heavy."

But, he said, "These coaches are concerned for me. They care about me, my life. I see it as a total opportunity, that second chance that will change my life and alter everything in the future."

Lutui does not harbor any understanding, though, for the decision the Bengals made.

"It was one of those things," he said. "I looked them in the face and was like `Just understand what's leaving the door, and I'll see you guys Christmas'."

The Cardinals play at Cincinnati on Christmas Eve.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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