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Cameron Wake: 2012 Year In Review

Posted Jan 14, 2013

First season as a defensive end turns out to be best of his career.

Two years ago Cameron Wake earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl as a starting outside linebacker for the AFC. Heading into 2012, the former CFL star had 28 sacks in just 31 career starts, so his move to full-time defensive end in training camp came with lots of questions.  

It didn’t matter to those on the outside when Wake and his teammates on the defensive side kept trying to point out that he had his hand in the dirt more on more than half of his snaps in 2011 with Miami running a base 3-4. The skeptics focused on new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s 4-3 scheme and the notion that the 6-foot-3, 258-pound Wake was going to get swallowed up by bigger offensive tackles and rendered ineffective as a pass rusher and a run stopper.   

Three games into the schedule under Coyle and Head Coach Joe Philbin, Wake had zero sacks to show for his efforts and the questions got louder. Wake shrugged them off the same he way he shrugged off doubters back in 2009 that predicted he wouldn’t be able to duplicate his CFL success (39 sacks and back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2007-08) in the National Football League.   

By season’s end, Wake had a career-high 15 sacks, moving him into sole possession of seventh place all-time in franchise history with 43 career sacks. That also happens to be the most by any Dolphins player in his first four seasons.   

Not only did his performance earn him a second trip to the Pro Bowl in three years and first as a defensive end, but Wake also was named first-team All-Pro by The Associated Press and by Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America.   

Opposing coaches and coordinators had a difficult time game planning for Wake because he proved to be equally as effective playing run defense as he was rushing the quarterback. He finished with 53 tackles (38 solo), 28 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles and one pass defensed and Pro Football Focus credited him with 87 quarterback disruptions while ranking him in the top 10 among all defensive end as a run stopper.   

As the Dolphins’ lone representative in the Pro Bowl and on these postseason All-Pro teams, Wake clearly is nowhere near an unknown commodity anymore. The fact he keeps mementos close by from his CFL days and of his two years out of football prove that he has no intention of slowing down.   

Signature Moment   

There are a few to choose from, but the one that stands out above all others is the game Wake put together in Week 4 at the Arizona Cardinals. He had been held without a sack up until that point, so in showing a flare for the dramatic all he did was erupt for 4.5 sacks in Miami’s 24-21 overtime loss. That was the most of his career in a single game and he accounted for more than half of the team’s eight sacks of Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb.   

West Coast trips seemed to agree with Wake as the moment that came in a close second for him happened in San Francisco in Week 14. He sacked Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick three times in a 27-13 loss.   

Coaching Perspective   

“I’d be hard pressed to find a guy that makes more of an impact in the game than Cam does, both as a pass rusher (and) he’s a darn good run defender as well. Teams that try to run the ball at him, he’s strong at the point. He slips blocks. He’s got unbelievable flexibility when you watch him on the tape. … My point is he plays with such great energy. Every play there’s a chance for him to make something big happen. … If there’s somebody going to try to block him one-on-one, I’d put my money on Cam every day of the week because he’s got such explosiveness, but he’s such a good athlete. There’s something about being able to get off the ball, which great pass rushers can do and then there’s an ability to bend and turn and get low and have such force and power. He’s got all those characteristics.” – Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle   

Teammate Perspective   

“This whole offseason I’m probably going to be working out with him the whole time trying to learn as much as I can from him, anything to help me get better. I know he has a whole lot to offer and he’s a really good teacher, so whatever I can grab and any type of knowledge I can get from him, I’m going to be bugging him the whole time. He’s a good guy and someone I definitely want to pattern my game after.” – Dolphins rookie defensive end Olivier Vernon

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