Guard Deuce Lutui is back. No one knows the numbers, but he is overweight. Clearly. And he’ll get one more chance from the Cardinals to show he can control that.
There were a couple of jokes from both coach Ken Whisenhunt — “We’ve talked a few times. And none of it was over a meal,” Whisenhunt deadpanned — and Lutui today, but Whisenhunt bluntly said the Cards are looking for Lutui to get his weight under control and quickly.
“It’s good to see Deuce and we are happy to have him back,” Whisenhunt said. “I see a commitment, but I have to see it over time. I made it very clear to him, the way he performs will be critical going forward. … If you have been in this game long enough, there are a lot of things you see that you just shake your head at. There are a number of talented players who didn’t reach their potential for a number of different reasons.
“Especially when you have a close relationship with someone like Deuce, it hurts when you see him not reach the potential you know is there.”
Lutui was gone. He had agreed to a two-year contract with the Bengals last week, but flunked his physical for being overweight.
(UPDATE: Kent Somers is reporting Deuce weighed 381 at the Cincy physical. Deuce weighed 396 last season when he came to camp. He was listed at 338 during last season.)
Suddenly, he was back on a one-year deal and, perhaps, a better understanding of the reality that seemed to irritate him the last couple of years — that the Cards wanted him to weigh less, and Lutui thinking he didn’t really have a problem. He had been looking forward to free agency, but the market wasn’t as promising as he thought. And now this.
“With this burden (of being big), this helps me,” Lutui said. “It checks my commitment. It’s a learning experience for me. … I rather go through this with the team here, and it’s a second chance to redeem myself. This will alter the way I play this season. It will elevate the way I think, the way I eat of course, and the way I play football.”
Lutui understands many people can’t fathom getting overweight when he had the potential to make millions in the free-agent market. No numbers came out, but he clearly would have made more on the Cincinnati deal than he will get in Arizona. “I know I left a lot there, but I see an opportunity … to nip the negatives about me and play football I am capable of playing.”
Lutui continues to insist “I can play heavy. But it’s not about that. It’s about the name of the game.”
Lutui said he had “no excuse” to be in this position but refuses to take it as a negative. He came back to Arizona “with a little awkwardness how I came back, but nevertheless I am walking tall. We acknowledge what has to be done.”
Lutui will have to battle quite a few other players on the interior now, although if he does get his weight under control, he would figure to be the leading candidate to be the right guard again, perhaps allowing Jeremy Bridges to play tackle in a battle with Brandon Keith. Short-term, however, this is a less about football and more about Lutui changing his life.
“We’re not going to have a lot of patience,” said Whisenhunt, who insisted he is not angry or upset at Lutui. “We have to see progress. It can’t be a yo-yo. It has to be consistent.
“It’s going to be ‘Show me.’ And I want to make it clear, we want that to happen.”
— I will have a story on TE Todd Heap’s arrival later, but man, the smile was just plastered on his face the whole time he was talking to us. Clearly, putting on the Cardinals’ hat and being a Card is a great thing for the Arizona native. He said as much too.
Tags: Deuce Lutui, Ken Whisenhunt, Todd Heap
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