Tatupu just the latest loss

Posted Oct 19, 2009

Seahawks must forge ahead without their Pro Bowl middle linebacker as they prepare to tackle the remaining 10 games of the season.


The Seahawks played their first six games without their nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle (Walter Jones), best cover cornerback (Marcus Trufant) and most versatile linebacker (Leroy Hill).

Now, they will have to play their remaining 10 games without middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who tore his left pectoral in Sunday’s 27-3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field.

But then playing without a full deck has become a way of life for the Seahawks in their first season under coach Jim Mora, as 12 starters already have missed a combined 35 games. As difficult as it will be to forge ahead without Tatupu, that’s exactly what the team plans to do – and must do.

“It’s tough to lose a player like Lofa, but one thing I know about this team is that we all prepare to the level where everybody can perform at a high level,” said rookie Aaron Curry, the only starting linebacker left standing after Tatupu went out late in the first half.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence that Hawthorne can come out and make big plays, just like the week when he started for us.”

Hawthorne would be David Hawthorne, the second-year middle linebacker who has earned the nickname “Heater” because of the way he, well, brings the heat. In that start Curry mentioned – in the Week 3 against the Chicago Bears – Hawthorne’s heat was oppressive as he collected 16 tackles and also had an interception.

Tatupu was injured while making the tackle on a third-down pass to Larry Fitzgerald with less than three minutes left in the half. As he left the field, Tatupu was grabbing at his left shoulder.

But no one knew immediately just how badly he was injured. As quarterback Matt Hasselbeck explained it, “He talked to us at halftime. It was a little confusing. He’s not in uniform. He’s wrapped up. He was making it sound like he wasn’t going to be out there the rest of the day.”

Now, he won’t be out there for the rest of the season. But Tatupu will be around, to provide leadership, inspiration and guidance.

“So he’s always going to be our leader, no matter whether he’s in or out of pads,” Curry said. “He’s going to be there, and he’s going to be our vocal leader. We’re just looking forward to him really being there and just coaching us all up.”

Rather than thinking about the latest player he has lost, Mora was focusing on those who might return during the team’s bye week: Hill, who tore a groin in the season opener; Trufant, who has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of training camp because of a bulging disc in his back; and left guard Rob Sims, who has missed the past two games because of a sprained ankle.

Mora wasn’t as sure about tackle Sean Locklear, who has missed the past four games with a high ankle sprain; Jones, who is coming off two surgical procedures on his left knee; and defensive end Patrick Kerney (groin) and cornerback Kelly Jennings (hip, ribs), who also were injured Sunday.

But losing Tatupu will be difficult, because of the player he is and the way he plays. He has been to the Pro Bowl three times and led the team in tackles in each of his first four seasons. Tatupu had eight tackles in the first 27 minutes of Sunday’s game.

“The Lofa thing is tough,” Mora said. “It’s a blow to our team, and it’s a blow to him as a man. He’s such a competitor and he loves to play. This is such an important part of his life ... so it’s going to be tough on him.”

The Seahawks just can’t allow it to be any tougher on them as they prepare for the rest of their season, starting with a Nov. 1 game against the Cowboys in Dallas.

“I’m not going to be shocked by anyone getting injured, because it is a tough sport, a violent sport,” said wide receiver Nate Burleson, who missed last season after tearing a knee ligament in the opener. “One thing I can appreciate is that these guys are giving it their all on the field, they’re going down on the field. That’s just how the game is.”