If Lofa Tatupu plays with added vigor at training camp for the Atlanta Falcons, it makes sense. After all, it wasn't so long ago he believed his career was over.
A phone call from the Atlanta Falcons changed all that. Tatupu signed a two-year, $3.6 million deal with the Falcons in March, and he'll have a legitimate shot at a starting middle linebacker role in training camp.
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"I'm excited about the whole process and just being back playing ball again," Tatupu, 29, told The Boston Globe in Sunday's edition. "You've got to knock a little rust off, but for the most part it's second nature, especially as a middle linebacker. You're supposed to know what everybody is doing. You're supposed to be the field general. From that standpoint, I really wasn't taken aback by it. I just come in and do what I do."
The offseason departure of Curtis Lofton to the New Orleans Saints left a void in the Falcons' linebacker corps. If Tatupu can shake off the rust and perform at a level similar to his best years in Seattle, don't be surprised if he beats out Akeem Dent, the 2011 third-round pick who currently stands as his main competition.
Tatupu has extra incentive to win the position battle, too, as he could receive a $1.25 million bonus based on '12 playing time, a source with knowledge of Tatupu's deal told our Brian McIntyre on Sunday.
Tatupu's body is just as big a challenger as Dent. The end of his Seattle run was marked by a succession of injuries, including concussion issues, and he missed time in OTAs with a strained hamstring. Tatupu's comeback story won't have a happy ending if he can't stay on the field.