Deuce Lutui back in Arizona, has something to prove
Deuce Lutui tried to leave.
A free agent, the right guard signed a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, a move that would have him leave the only team he’s ever known since being taken in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
But then Lutui failed his physical — due to his weight — and the former USC Trojan ended up back in Arizona on a one-year contract.
“I came here walking tall,” Lutui said of his return. “Of course it kind of had that little awkwardness.
“Nevertheless I’m walking tall over here; we’ve already acknowledged what needs to be done.”
What needs to be done likely includes dropping a few pounds. Lutui was listed at 338 pounds last year, though it is likely his weight is considerably higher right now.
Lutui, 28, has consistently battled weight problems, including coming into training camp one year ago a little too heavy. He worked his way into shape and the starting lineup, but this is the first time his size had really cost him.
“The good Lord made me this big so I could take a lot of blows,” he said. “I’ve got a big heart and I’ve got a big attitude about this. I’m a big boy.”
Lutui, in fact, said he can play heavy, but head coach Ken Whisenhunt will have the final say on whether or not that is the case. Whisenhunt said he’s had a few conversations with the lineman — none of which were over a meal, he joked — and said he needs to see a commitment over time from Lutui.
“We’re not going to have a lot of patience with that, so I think he understands that and I’m excited to see if he can get back to being a really good player for us,” Whisenhunt said of Lutui’s weight.
Lutui has a good grasp of what this opportunity could mean for his career. Signed to a one-year contract, if he can get on the field and play well there is a good chance he’ll finally have his big payday next off-season.
“It’s a second chance to redeem myself and get back to free agency,” he said.
But before Lutui gets to that point, he’ll have to prove he can control his weight — and defensive linemen.
And, as of now, Lutui has one game circled on his calendar: a December 24th showdown in Cincinnati against the team that cut him loose.
“I looked at them in the face, I was like ‘you just understand what’s leaving the door and I’ll see you guys on Christmas.'”
ArizonaSports’ Craig Grialou contributed to this report