Cameron Wake has long been one of Miami’s most important players on the defensive front, but the time might finally be coming for a changing of the guard. In a recent interview with Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post, Wake mentioned that he could be seeing a reduced snap count in the upcoming season.
“Could I play every down? Obviously, yes, I’ve shown that,” Wake told Habib. “Is that in the best interest of the team? Is that in the best interest of myself? Question mark. I don’t have this ‘Everybody look at me. I must be the starter.’ That’s not my mentality. I want to do whatever is going to help the entirety of the team, the entirety of the defense. So, if it means me being a third-down guy, let’s do it. If it means I have to start and play every down, I’ll take that role on, too.”
Wake’s team-first mentality is one of the attributes that’s made him such a valuable leader over the course of his nine year career in Miami. Since joining the Dolphins out of the CFL back in 2009, he’s become one of the best pass rushers of his era and has routinely ranked at the top of the league in both sacks and quarterback pressures. He’s only missed more than two games in a season once (2015) and has racked up 92.0 sacks over nine seasons.
Over the past few seasons, the Dolphins coaching staff has tinkered with the idea of altering Wake’s role to that of a “pass-rush specialist,” meaning they’d bring him onto the field in obvious passing situations. If that were the case again in 2018, this tactic would allow the team to keep the 36-year old fresh throughout the course of game while also preserving him for the stretch run of the season. However, as is made evident by Wake’s 22.0 sacks and 65 tackles over the past two seasons, it’s hard to justify keeping him on the sideline.
The difference now is that Miami has incredible depth and talent at the defensive end position. With newly acquired All-Pro Robert Quinn, first-round pick Charles Harris, and veterans Andre Branch and William Hayes on the roster, Miami might finally have the firepower to use a rotation on the defensive line that keeps everyone’s legs rested and ready throughout the game.
That being said, it’s never smart to bet against one of the top defensive players this franchise has ever seen. It wouldn’t surprise me if Wake again proves to be too valuable to have sitting on the bench on early downs this season.