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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Leaning on Pisa

Pisa Tinoisamoa
September 21, 2008 -- Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (left) nearly intercepts a pass intended for tight end John Carlson. (Chris Lee/P-D)


As the Rams' defensive coordinator, Jim Haslett tried to coax linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa into more consistent performances. "He gets one or two plays every game that he doesn't play real well," Haslett explained.

Things are different now. Haslett is the head coach, following the dismissal of Scott Linehan on Sept. 29, and Tinoisamoa is putting together his best season since 2005.
Citing a marked improvement in Tinoisamoa's mechanics and technique, Haslett said, "He's doing everything right for the first time since I've been here."

Tinoisamoa has amassed a team-leading 46 tackles — including a season-high 13 in last Sunday's 19-17 triumph at Washington. He also had a sack and another stop for lost yardage vs. the Redskins.

A second-round draft pick in 2003 out of Hawaii, Tinoisamoa topped the Rams in tackles in each of his first three years, piling up totals of 121, 145 and 134. He didn't miss a game until six weeks into his fourth NFL season, a span of 54 contests.

But when the injuries began to arrive, they came with a vengeance. Tinoisamoa missed five games in 2006 when five different injuries — two broken hands, two dislocated elbows and a sprained shoulder — ultimately landed him on injured reserve. He finished with just 47 tackles.

Last year, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound weakside linebacker played in only nine games before he again wound up on IR, this time because of knee problems. He had 79 tackles.

Finally healthy and at peace in his personal life, Tinoisamoa, 27, is returning to form. He said he spent his offseason re-dedicating himself to his family — wife Shannon, sons Kaleb and Ryder, and daughter Mylie.

"Not to say I was a bad guy off the field (before), but I spent a lot of time with my family, realizing what's important to me, realizing that I like my lifestyle, the way I'm living," Tinoisamoa said. "And in order to maintain that, I'm probably going to have to play good ... especially when they're firing people around here."

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