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Cameron Wake: 2013 Year In Review

Posted Jan 13, 2014

Sack specialist earned a third trip to Hawaii with stellar season.


CLICK HERE FOR A CAMERON WAKE PHOTO GALLERY

That chip on Cameron Wake’s shoulder may have shrunk a bit from the time it first emerged back in 2005, but the Miami Dolphins defensive end has vowed to never let it disappear.

Wake leaned on the chip again in 2013 to land his third Pro Bowl berth and second in a row, finishing second on the team in sacks with 8.5. He also acted as a valued mentor to second-year defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby and rookie defensive end Dion Jordan.

Miami’s opponents were well aware of the threat posed by Wake and attempted to neutralize him with double teams, flex formations and throwing a third blocker at him in the form of a running back. That opened up pass rushing lanes for Vernon, who broke out with a team-leading 11.5 sacks, and also benefited an opportunistic secondary.

Contrary to the manner in which Wake’s career began, when he went undrafted in 2005 and was cut by the New York Giants before training camp, he is far from unknown or underappreciated. Still, he keeps those memories fresh and at the forefront every year and before every game so as not to lose that edge that got him to where he is today.

The Cleveland Browns saw firsthand what Wake’s fury is all about in the season opener when he erupted for 2.5 sacks in Miami’s 23-10 win. He went the next six weeks without recording a sack and missed the first game of his professional career due to injury at New Orleans when he was ruled out with an injured knee. That was tough for Wake because he prides himself on his conditioning and his health.

But when he did get back in the sack category Wake did it with style, taking Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to the ground three times in front of a national television audience on Halloween night. His third sack ended the game in overtime as it resulted in a safety.

This was Wake’s second season lining up at defensive end in defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s 4-3 scheme and he became an even more complete player. In addition to his obvious pass-rushing prowess, Wake was effective in stopping the run and held his own at times in pass coverage, finishing with 37 tackles (29 solo) and two forced fumbles.

Signature Moment

Just about every Wake sack is an attractive highlight because of the speed with which he turns the corner and the angles he is able to create once he gets the edge. His “Incredible Hulk” pose that punctuates each sack also is memorable, but without a doubt his sack-safety of Dalton just before midnight stands out above the rest.

Not only was the timing of Wake’s play impeccable, the avenue he took to get to Dalton was unconventional. The 6-foot-3, 258-pound speedster came underneath and up the middle where the big boys on the offensive line usually are, slanting inside the left guard while the left tackle took on blitzing linebacker Philip Wheeler on the outside. The other three offensive linemen focused on defensive tackles Randy Starks and Jared Odrick, with Odrick’s pressure forcing Dalton to step right into Wake’s arms. The play epitomized his combination of quickness and power and marked just the second time in NFL history that a game ended with a sack in overtime. Of Note

Wake became just the seventh player in franchise history to surpass 50 career sacks with his sack of Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger on December 9th and he now has 51.5 in his first five seasons. That total also ranks as the fourth highest in the NFL over the past five seasons behind only Minnesota’s Jared Allen (71), Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware (63.5) and Kansas City’s Tamba Hali (55).

Coaching Perspective

“Cameron is outstanding because, one, he’s a guy that doesn’t say a lot all the time and when he says something they (the younger guys) really listen. But they can just watch him by example. This guy comes to work every day; this is a blue-collar worker. This is not a prima donna player you’re talking about. He’s a self-made man, too, and he only got to where he is because of work. So they watch his work ethic, they’ve got a chance to be OK. They gravitate to him. They see how he’s doing it. He’s not the biggest cat in the world, either, but he’s able to use leverage, his strength. He works against big guys all the time and they watch him and are just amazed at the stuff he’s doing and his professionalism.” – Dolphins defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers

Teammate Perspective

“I study him when he’s not even thinking I’m studying him. I look at him in practice, during the games and all of the games that we’ve played in. I try to learn everything that can give me an edge and he’s still pretty much a big mentor right now to me.” – Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon