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Koa Misi still awaiting medical clearance

The Dolphins’ linebacker is looking to come back after spinal fusion surgery.

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi is a solid member of the defense, able to play well against the run and support whatever the defense is trying to do. Fans get on Misi because he is not a spectacular playmaker, but the defense definitely felt his loss last year when a neck injury ended his season after just three games.

Now, months and a spinal fusion surgery later, Misi is still awaiting clearance from doctors, according to a report from the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. According to Jackson, Misi “saw a doctor in the past two weeks and plans to see one again before the start of camp in late July.” The 2010 second-round pick “remains hopeful about being cleared to play this season, but it’s impossible for anyone to know when he will be cleared.”

Former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had a similar surgery in 2011. He returned in 2012 to play four more seasons, earning three Pro Bowl selections, two First-Team All-Pro selections, and winning Super Bowl 50 in 2016.

Misi has only played in 16 games once in his career, when he made an appearance every week of his rookie season in 2010, starting 11 times that year. In 2015, he started 13 games, recording 78 tackles with one pass defensed. He has 84 games played, with 72 starts, in his career, with 352 tackles, 12 sacks, 11 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries with one touchdown. He had 22 tackles in his three games last year.

The Dolphins have looked to upgrade their linebacker corps this year, with last year’s starting middle linebacker, Kiko Alonso, being joined by free agent signing Lawrence Timmons. The team also drafted Raekwon McMillan, who could challenge Misi for a starting position alongside Alonso and Timmons. Third-year linebacker Neville Hewitt or second-year player Mike Hull could be in position to challenge McMillan if Misi is not cleared to play.

The Dolphins could use Misi, even if it is in a limited reserve type of role. He is a strong tackler, especially when it comes to supporting the run defense, so he could rotate into games in running situations. Obviously, that is all predicated on him receiving full medical clearance and not being a risk to himself by trying to make those tackles. A linebacker group with Alonso, Timmons, and McMillan, with Misi rotating into the game makes sense for this year - assuming McMillan can win that starter role.