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Lousaka Polite: The Dolphins sure thing

In 1964, the people of the newly independent nation of Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) selected Lusaka as their capital.

That name struck a chord in the Polite family around the time their new baby boy was coming into the world in September of 1981. And coupled with the fact Mr. Polite's name was Lou, it made perfect sense to name the new addition Lousaka.

Today Lousaka Polite is the Miami Dolphins' starting fullback. They could just as easily have a different name for him: Sure thing.

Polite, you see, is exactly that on short-yardage situations. Ten times this season the Dolphins have handed him the football on third or fourth down and 1 yard to go. All 10 times Polite has delivered a first down.

That pretty much continues a trend Polite started in 2008 when he converted 11 of 12 attempts on third or fourth down. So what gives?

"The first thing I think about is I'm thinking about what the front is going to be on defense," Polite told me Thursday. "What are they going to show me? Then I think about my reads and what they entail, proper footwork and getting behind the right guys and trusting my blockers and fighting for a yard.

"It's all 11 against 11 fighting for a yard. That's what goes through my head. And it's an honor that they trust me enough to put me in that situation. I always want to deliver for my team. In my mind I feel like I have to get it done for my team because they're counting on me. That's what I contribute, as well as blocking, but especially in those situations -- that's when you want to deliver.

"All eyes are on you. The whole sideline knows you're getting the ball. You want to deliver for them."

So what's the secret?

"There's no real secret to it," Polite said. "It's just fighting and making the right decision with the ball. You just put two hands on it and fight until the whistle blows. Honestly, the guys up front make my job easier. I couldn't get that yard if they didn't block the guys in front of them. It would be impossible -- me against the other 11 guys. That's not going to happen. It starts with them and moving those guys off the turf."

Polite's conversion prowess this year, not to mention the fact he's a very good blocker, has made him a Pro Bowl candidate. I vote for the Associated Press All Pro team and he will be on my ballot at fullback.

But even as fan voting continues and teams will vote next week, Polite says that's not his priority at the moment.

"There's talk about it but that's not important to me right now," Polite said. "What's important is that we stay together and try to stay in this thing. Those things take care of themselves as far as accolades. If you're winning and playing well as a team, people will notice. That's their job. Who doesn't want to be the best at what they do? It would be a great honor, but it's not the first priority right now."

Coach Tony Sparano has said Polite is among the most thorough and smart players on his team. He knows his job inside and out. He knows his assignment. He knows what's asked of him. He knows how to be a pro.

And part of being a pro is trying to become a better pro. So Polite is trying to do that.

"I want to be a more dominant blocker," he said. "I don't want my guy even in the mix. I don't want him to lay a hand on the runner. I don't want him to get near the quarterback."

Polite has obviously come a long way from his three years in Dallas and then one season in Chicago in 2007.

"I think earlier in my career, the first couple of years, I was still getting a feel for the game and adjusting to the speed of the game," Polite said. "Maybe it just wasn't my time yet."

When the Dolphins gave Polite his opportunity last season, when he was signed as a free agent in October of 2008, Polite's time had come.

"It was an opportunity," Polite said, "to show that I've grown and I'm a better player."

No doubt.