Dolphins’ Cameron Wake making quarterbacks go down by the sackful
Cameron Wake has three games in which to collect a total of 4 1/2 sacks and reach the Dolphins’ record of 18 1/2 sacks in a season.
12/16/2012 12:00 AM
09/08/2014 6:12 PM
Cameron Wake has roughly as many gashes on his shins as sacks on the season.
He would gladly take five more of each before the New Year so he could break a team record.
Wake — the high-energy defensive end and one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreary Dolphins season — has history within reach. With 14 quarterback sacks, he’s 4 1/2 shy of the team’s single-season record, shared by Bill Stanfill (1973) and Jason Taylor (2002).
“I’d put [Taylor] as the best ever,” Wake said when discussing the game’s great pass-rushers. “To share any space on the marquee next to a guy like that, that would truly be an honor. But can’t put the cart before the horse.”
With the Jaguars in town, that horse should be pulling at the reins. Jacksonville’s offensive line has allowed 40 sacks — fourth-most in the league through Week 14 — and Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne is far from mobile, as Dolphins fans will remember from his days with the team.
Of course, five sacks in a game at any level would be remarkable, but it’s not inconceivable. Wake already has three or more twice this year.
“Cam’s kicking [butt], and it comes as no surprise,” Taylor said last week. “Cam has a very special set of skills, and we knew from Day One he’d be good.”
Said Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey: “He can wreck a game. He’s having a phenomenal year.”
Actually, Wake might be having the best season of any Dolphin in 2012. At this point, individual achievement and accolades are about all the team has to get excited about.
On the day the Dolphins will honor the 40th anniversary of the Perfect Season, the current incarnation will try to avoid its sixth loss in seven games.
Still, several players are having the best season of their career. Brandon Fields is on pace to break his own team record for gross and net punting and leads his position in Pro Bowl voting.
Brian Hartline and Davone Bess each could go over 1,000 yards for the season (although Bess is out of Sunday’s game with a back injury).
Then there’s Wake, who already has tied his career high for sacks with three games to play. Quite a few of them have come at the expense of his body.
Scabs and fresh wounds mark both lower legs. His fingers don’t straighten the whole way, a reminder of a career spent in the trenches.
“Mama always told me, nothing’s free,” Wake said with a chuckle. “There is 100 percent chance, playing professional football, that you’re going to get hurt.
“You may squeeze by without a serious injury, but there is no chance that you play this game without being hurt.”
Wake has been lucky since joining the Dolphins. He has played in all but two games throughout his career and spent the 2012 campaign justifying the four-year, $49 million contract extension he signed last spring.
And Wake has performed at a high level despite never playing for an NFL team with a winning record. Pass rushing is predicated on extreme effort, and Wake’s motivation apparently hasn’t waned, even if his team’s postseason chances have.
“You’ve got a job to do, and you try to do the job the best you can,” said Taylor, who faced a similar situation for much of his career.
“It doesn’t always equal success for the team, and that’s unfortunate. His job is to do his job and to be the best at what he can be, and he’s doing that.”
Wake encourages his benchmark-nearing teammates to do the same. And he hopes that those who support the team follow.
“For guys to achieve their goals is meaningful,” he said.
Like a franchise sack record — no matter how scuffed up his body gets.
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