“It’s kind of already started,” said Wake, who looked to Jason Taylor back in 2009 during his first year in Miami. “I’m not an old guy myself but I’m one of the longer tenured guys already on this team. So some of the younger guys coming in are kind of doing the same thing, tugging on my jersey and asking, ‘What do we do with this?’ I remember back when I first got here doing the same thing with Jason and the older guys, so the torch has been passed.”
Wake is getting a kick out of being there for Miami’s rookies like former University of Miami linebacker
Back in 2006, the former Penn State defensive end was out of football entirely after being waived by the New York Giants before the start of training camp. He worked as a mortgage broker while his agent continued to try to find him a team and that team wound up being the BC Lions in the CFL, with whom he won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honors and racked up 39 sacks – nice credentials for a defensive mentor.
“I accept the responsibility and I’m going to teach them everything,” Wake said. “We’re going to have those offensive tackles in this league in trouble. As far as what they are asking me, it’s more general things like when the tackle does one thing how do you get out of a certain move or use this certain tactic. I remember asking the same questions when I got down here so it’s always helpful when you can go out there and teach the young guys and help them help the team.”
The Dolphins rewarded Wake for how he performed the previous three seasons with a generous contract extension before the start of OTAs, and he is eager to show them that he intends to do even more. In 2009, his first with the team, he had 5.5 sacks in reserve duty with only one start in 14 games. He followed that up with 14 sacks in 2010 and earned a starting spot in the Pro Bowl and managed eight sacks last season while commanding more double teams.
Moving back to a more conventional defensive end role with his hand in the ground more excites Wake rather than concerns him. Even though all of his success in the NFL has come at outside linebacker, he earned his CFL accolades as a defensive end.
“I’m kind of back to my roots so to speak,” Wake said. “That’s kind of where I started off this whole process of my football career so I’m going back to my home. I’ll even be doing a little bit of both, same as last year, standing up sometimes and putting my hand in the ground. I’ll do whatever I can to help the team out.”
That clearly includes taking over the role the now-retired Taylor had when he first arrived.