The Detroit Lions’ worst fears were proven true early on Monday, when it was revealed linebacker Stephen Tulloch was lost for the season with a torn ACL, will have surgery and hit the injured reserve list.
Tulloch’s non-contact injury appeared to be sustained jumping in the air to celebrate a sack of Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Afterwards, he came down and crumpled in a heap, writhing in pain. Caldwell, however, during his press conference Monday afternoon, admitted to not knowing the whole story, noting an injury sustained earlier could have also been exacerbated by Tulloch’s leap.
“It’s not certain how (the injury) happened, the obvious thing was everyone saw him go up, go down and come up afterward,” Caldwell said. “I’m not absolutely sure on that.”
Without Tulloch, Detroit’s situation becomes next man up for the defense, who used DeAndre Levy in Tulloch’s spot with great success. While Caldwell wouldn’t confirm that move would be permanent, he did note confidence in his defense to get the job done collectively, no matter who fills in.
“We’ll look at our options,” Caldwell said regarding how replacing Tulloch might go. “Guys step up and do the job they’re expected to do, and I think you’ll see that again.”
Regardless of that, the injury is clearly a blow to the Lions’ defensive psyche as a whole. The team has the second rated scoring defense in football through three weeks, allowing 15 points per-game. They’ve also excelled in run defense, holding players from opposing backfields in check. Tulloch, a solid tackler, was a large part of that success.
“It’s never easy to deal with injuries, unfortunately,” Caldwell said. “It’s tough on those guys, it’s tough on their teammates, but the fact of the matter is, that’s just the way the game is.”
Even if Tulloch’s injury was sustained as the result of a celebration, Caldwell contends he’s not going to discourage his players from showing their excitement after making big plays on the field, saying he prefers enthusiasm and excitement during the course of the game.
“We’re not going to dampen the spirit of individuals after making a play, no,” he said.
As optimistic as Caldwell remained on Monday, now, he still must face concerns about a season without perhaps Detroit’s most consistent defensive contributor.