Stephen Tulloch makes tackles. The man in the middle of the Detroit Lions‘ defense has already put together another stellar NFL season in his third year in Honolulu Blue. With 107 total tackles through 14 weeks of play, Tulloch has been an anchor for the much-improved unit in 2013.
Tulloch is the latest in a long line of quality middle linebackers to suit up for the Lions. Chris Spielman patrolled the hash marks in Detroit for most of the 1990’s, striking fear into opposing offenses with his physical style of play. One of the toughest athletes to ever compete, Spielman set the benchmark for playing through pain while racking up 1,138 tackles for the Lions.
Like Spielman, Tulloch knows what it’s like to don the pads at less than 100 percent. Eight seasons into his career, Tulloch is yet to miss a game. He played the entire 2012 campaign on a knee that ached with tendinitis. It may have slowed him down a bit, but he still managed to register 112 tackles on the year.
The Lions didn’t experience much of a drop off after Spielman left the Lions for the Buffalo Bills. Linebacker Stephen Boyd took over in 1996, continuing the tradition of solid play up the middle. A two-time Pro Bowler, Boyd spent his entire seven year career in Detroit.
The Lions’ defense saw a revolving door of middle linebackers through the first 10 years of the new millennium, and the team subsequently lost a lot of games. The signing of Tulloch in 2011, however, again solidified that vital position. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he has Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley keeping him clean while he flows from sideline to sideline.
Jonathon Svec is a Detroit Lions writer for RantSports.com.