Oct 25, 2016
Honesty & Grit

When Miami Dolphins cornerback Chris Culliver arrived at preseason camp on Aug. 9, he was still recoving from torn ligaments in his knee. Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Dave Puloka was tasked with getting him back to form.

The biggest hurdle, Puloka said, was that Culliver was under the impression that his recovery would be a significantly shorter and easier. Puloka’s strategy was to be very honest with Culliver.

“Right up front, I told (Culliver), ‘I’m committed to this journey. But I need you to be as well,’” Puloka said. “I put it on the table and told him, ‘There’s going to be times you’re not going to like me very much. But it’s my job to keep pushing you to make sure we get to a point where you can get out there…and this is going to be hard.’”

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Culliver said that his recovery and training took a great deal of time, hard work, and persistence.

“It’s always hard to get back from any injury,” Culliver said. “You got to keep your head down and keep plugging, keep chugging. That’s what coach Dave and me pretty much been doing. There’s been hard days and there have been days that were easier. He always keeps my head in it and keeps me level-headed and on the right path.”

While the process was not always easy due to the pressure to get Culliver cleared to play as soon as possible, Puloka said Culliver appreciated his services and thanked him on a daily basis.

“We trained hard. We trained well,” Culliver said. “I’m in shape. I run out there confident now getting my repetitions. Got my helmet for the first time. I’m just getting comfortable and getting a good feel out there. It’s the first time 21 other guys are around my knee and I’m moving around with live souls. It’s feeling good out there. I’m happy.”

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