RENTON, Wash. -- The news first hit when Seattle Seahawks head Pete Carroll revealed it during Seattle's first post-draft practice session of the new NFL season. Guard Deuce Lutui, who played for Carroll at USC and started 72 games for the Arizona Cardinals from 2006 through 2011 after Arizona selected him in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft, has shed some serious weight -- and there's a specific reason why.
Lutui's longstanding problem in the NFL had to do with his weight -- as seen by the picture above, there were times through his career that Lutui really got up there, and it has impacted his ability to play the game at a high level. It caused the Cardinals to hold him out in certain situations through his time in Arizona, and the Cincinnati Bengals actually failed him on a physical in July of 2011 after he agreed to terms on a two-year deal. He returned to Arizona and appeared in 15 games for the Cards last season.
During one preseason, Lutui reported to the team at 398 pounds. The Seahawks, in need of depth along their offensive line, took a shot on the veteran, and he impressed by looking relatively lean during that first practice. After the 45-minute workout, Carroll dropped the bomb -- Lutui has turned over a new dietary leaf, and he's now a vegan.
"Deuce was doing great," Carroll said. "He's at 208 right now [laughter]… Deuce is a joy to have out here. He's got such a great spirit. He always did and we looked at opportunities to get him on this club just because of that. He looks good. His weight is down — he's way down from where he can be. He's a vegan too now so he's really made a big turn — if you can imagine."
On Tuesday, Lutui told ESPN.com that his new diet allowed him to come in for first practices at his preferred weight of 340 pounds -- in the past, that had been a bit of a struggle.
"A lot of people wouldn't call it vegan, but as the vegan concept goes, it is something I eat pretty much vegan throughout the week," Lutui said on Tuesday."I've been at this for four months, and so I've lost tremendous weight. ... It has always been a part of me to play big. I had to humble myself to see what coaches are seeing out there."
As a result of his revelation, Lutui changed his dietary habits to include a lot of fruit, salads, beans and brown rice. The Seahawks have it in Lutui's contract that he can't play for them if he's over 350 pounds at any given time. As it was with receiver Mike Williams, another former product of the Carroll regime at USC who washed out in the NFL after a series of weight problems, Lutui is trying to mount a comeback under the auspices of the coach who knows him best.
"He is the only coach in the NFL who really knows who Deuce Lutui is," the big Tongan told ESPN. "I came at him at 396 [in college], but he has really honored me for my strengths and I'm going to honor him by playing at a weight that is under the radar.
"I am stepping into my prime. I haven't even yet scratched the surface of that. I am so optimistic about this year as far as my training has been. I can't wait to prove to this organization who I am and who they are getting."
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