AC In The AM: Nothing Shy About New DL Coach

He is loud. He is intense. He is so wound up for practice that he once needed IV fluids just to get through it. Meet new Dolphins defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and a word of advice: Don't get too close. He may just shatter your eardrum.

Kocurek, in truth, is a breath of fresh air on a hot, stifling day. This is his first year with the Dolphins after spending the previous nine seasons with the Detroit Lions. It's also our first chance to see him in action. And action is the appropriate word.

"He's fired up all the time," said defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. "He brings it every day."

Or as Kocurek put it in an interview a few years ago: "I've always been a wired up dude. When you work 100 hours a week, sometimes fatigue gets to you."

But don't for a minute think intensity is all that he brings. A former defensive tackle at Texas Tech, Kocurek punctuated his college career with a Masters degree in Kinesiology. Translation: He's got plenty of smarts too. And he'll need it as he pieces together a talented defensive line he promises will "work as hard as they can, as fast as they can."

I approached Kocurek as he walked off the field after Wednesday's OTA practice. His gray shirt was soaked with sweat. The way it always is. His voice was a little raspy which makes perfect sense considering that he spent the last two hours screaming things like "RUN TO THE FOOTBALL!!!" and "ON THE BALL!!!" at a fever pitch that sometimes even startles himself.

"I guess it began in middle school," he says. "I was so excitable all the time it was like my heart was coming out of my chest. I guess you could say I've always hit the field with my hair on fire."

How do his players respond to this?

"Love the man," said defensive tackle Davon Godchaux.

And then Godchaux smiles: "He's big on talking."

Phillips went as far as to say that Kocurek will bring a culture change to the defensive line.

Told of this, Kocurek responded in a soft Texas drawl: "Oh, I don't even know what culture change means. I'm just looking for eight or 10 guys that can flat out play."

How can you not like this guy? How can you not appreciate the manner in which he coaches? How can you not admire his in-your-face honesty? Kocurek is good friends with defensive coordinator Matt Burke. They broke in together with the Lions. They built a strong respect for one another, which is how Kocurek ended up with the Dolphins.   

He admits it's a little strange being here after nine years with the Lions – "Where's the cafeteria again," he asks – but he relishes working together again with Burke as well as the challenge he faces with this defensive line, a line that needs to play considerably better than it did a year ago.

"I spoke to all of the guys about needing more from them," Kocurek said. "I don't care if they are big names, small names, from big colleges or small colleges. I want fast, physical, aggressive players."

Go through the list of defensive linemen and it is clear Kocurek has already done his homework. He's excited about former No. 1 pick Charles Harris, feels honored to be working with someone like Cam Wake and generally sees a group of young players ready to take the next step in their careers.

He mentions the loss of Ndamukong Suh, a player he coached with the Lions, and says "we've got a lot players at tackle ready to make their mark." There is no half glass with this coach. His glass is overflowing.

Someone asks him about Akeem Spence, a defensive tackle formerly on the Lions, and Kocurek quickly takes ownership of that move. "I put my name on that one to bring him here," he says.

Needless to say, Coach Adam Gase is already impressed with what he sees in his new defensive line coach. "He brings juice every day," Gase said. "I know his guys are going to run to the football because I've heard it enough over the last few days."

And you can be sure Gase won't stop hearing it anytime soon. That's just what Kocurek is all about. The volume is always turned up high. 

"RUN TO THE FOOTBALL!!! You can hear those words from halfway across the practice field and you know where they're coming from. Or, should we say, who they're coming from?

"I just try to bring it as hard as I possibly can every day," Kocurek said.

Which is exactly what he's asking of his players.

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