Koa Misi, who played three games last season before sustaining a neck injury that required surgery, has not been cleared by doctors to begin football activities and is expected to be on the physically unable to perform list when the Dolphins begin training camp practices Saturday.
Misi, 30, is continuing to rehabilitate from the injury but obviously has not made progress quickly enough to be ready for the start of camp. The Dolphins remain optimistic Misi will eventually be able to return to the field but have no set timetable for that to happen.
The fact Misi will not be competing for a job for an indefinite time means rookie Raekwon McMillan’s chances of being one of the team’s three starting linebackers improves dramatically. McMillan, a second-round pick, was expected to receive the strongest challenge for a starting job from Misi, who has started 72 games for the Dolphins since 2011.
Although multiple Dolphins coaches -- Tony Sparano, Joe Philbin and Adam Gase -- have praised how physical a presence Misi is for the Miami defense when he’s healthy, the problem the linebacker has faced, particularly lately, is staying healthy to indeed be that presence.
Misi last season failed to play all 16 games for the sixth consecutive time. It was only in his rookie year in ‘11 that Misi was available for every game.
The latest injury was initially considered so serious that Misi himself considered his career in jeapardy. He even told multiple people he was concerned he might not play again and be forced to retire instead. But when doctors presented him with encouraging prospects for a recovery, Misi agreed to his second pay cut from the Dolphins in as many years in order to stay with the team and make a run at reviving his career.
That run is not yet over. But although it is not certain when exactly it will begin, it’s clear it won’t be fast enough for the start of training camp.
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This is the latest in the ongoing battle Misi has to be a player the Dolphins can