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Misi's first impression: No second mistakes

8/3/2010

DAVIE, Fla. -- Koa Misi's job is to create mayhem.

His daily objective at practice, however, is conflict avoidance.

"I don't want to be messing up in front of the coaches and getting yelled at," the rookie outside linebacker said after the Miami Dolphins training-camp workout Tuesday.

Misi is doing a fine job staying out of trouble.

The Dolphins drafted Misi in the second round out of Utah to bolster their uncertain pass rush. He has crackled as a first-team outside linebacker, giving head coach Tony Sparano plenty to be pleased about.

Misi's development will be crucial to the Dolphins' defensive success. They were lacking on the edge last season and parted ways with Joey Porter and Jason Taylor, a pair of all-decade pass-rushers. Misi, as a 4-3 defensive end, had eight sacks in his past two seasons at Utah.

"What I'm finding with him, at least right now, is that when you tell him something once, it kind of goes into this black book over here somewhere," Sparano said, "and he kind of figures out that that's really important.

"Little by little, he's getting it, and he's not making the same mistake over and over again, which is good. There are some guys out here right now that are making some of the same mistakes. We're correcting the same thing. He's not one of those guys. So I have to believe it's going to happen quicker."

Sparano mentioned finer points such as hand placement and footwork as areas Misi must concentrate on, but added Misi's speed off the edge "has been pretty impressive."

"He has a unique ability not to stay blocked very long," Sparano said. "He can get off blocks and get out of trouble fast which is good news, but fundamentally he can put himself in bad positions if he doesn't understand the proper footwork."

Misi explained his attention to detail came from trying to please his father. Sione Misi played on the offensive line for the University of Hawaii.

Bob Padecky of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat wrote an interesting piece last month about how Koa Misi's love for football developed under his father. Sione Misi's close friend, former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Jesse Sapolu, also was influential.

Koa Misi said he takes immense pride in his study habits and claimed he frequently is pouring over the playbook with one mission in mind: Stay out of trouble.

"Growing up, my dad was a pretty hard guy," said Koa Misi, who once told the story of his disappointed father coming out of the stands at a high school game to deliver a motivational head butt. "I didn't like to make mistakes twice with my dad there. That's something that transfers on the field. When I make a mistake, I don't want to make it again."