Cameron Wake is a lead-by-example kind of guy, but there are DVDs floating around the Dolphins’ locker room that suggest he has a future in motivational speaking, if so desired.
As hard as it might be to believe, Wake is now one of the old guys on the team. And so, the coaching staff recently asked him to speak to their rookies about how he made it — the discipline it took to go from a mortgage broker to one of the most feared pass-rushers in football.
The speech was so well received, the team made copies and distributed them to the younger players.
“It was fantastic,” first-year linebacker Jordan Tripp said. “It was about how to carry yourself as a professional, how to maximize your potential in everything you do, not just on the football field or at the facility, but when you’re away from the facility or what you do in the dark. ‘Showing up in the light’ were his exact words.”
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Wake has a way of showing up when the lights are brightest. He wrecked the Bengals in prime-time last Halloween, recording just the third game-ending sack in the NFL’s long history.
Now in his sixth NFL season, Wake already has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times and has recorded 53.5 career sacks.
He aims to add to that total Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, where the Dolphins (1-1) play host to the winless Chiefs at 4:25p.m.
On paper, Wake appears poised for a big game. Kansas City has surrendered six sacks through two weeks, and Wake will be matched up with right tackle Ryan Harris, playing only because Jeff Allen sustained a season-ending elbow injury.
Of course, the same was expected last week against Buffalo, when Wake went head-to-head with rookie Seantrel Henderson, the former Miami Hurricane. Yet Henderson kept Wake in check; the defensive end hit quarterback E.J. Manuel just once.
The Bills’ game plan — power running and quick passes — was a big reason why. Instead of playing into the Dolphins’ strength, their fearsome pass rush, the Bills ran away from it.
No excuse, Wake told the Miami Herald last week.
“They’re not going to sit back there and say, ‘Let’s sit back there and let our O-linemen block for 13 seconds,’” Wake said. “I don’t care who you are, you’re not going to be able to block any defensive end for more than three, four seconds. Eventually, he’s going to get off and throw the ball. [Teams] are smart. They chip just like other people chip. That’s the nature of the business.”
Wake tries to overcome the numbers disadvantage with effort. But even the best defensive ends have microscopic success rates.
Wake had a monster game in the season opener, sacking the Patriots’ Tom Brady twice. The Dolphins as a team got to him four times. The flip side: 56 other times, Brady was able to deliver a pass before the pressure got to him.
“You have to swing for the fences every single time. … There’s been many times where I’ve beat the guy clean and by the time you get there, the ball is gone,” Wake said. “That doesn’t matter. The next play, you have to do it again, and again and again until the end of time, or else you’ll never be a competitor.”
And not just in games. That’s the way Wake practices every day.
In defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s meeting with his unit Thursday, he played a clip of the last play of practice from the day before.
“I believe we were in the third-down period, and Cam came off the ball 900 miles an hour,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “It was a two-and-a-half hour practice.”
Added Philbin: “He plays hard every snap and really it’s a great example for everybody, but younger players especially.”
That’s why Wake was the keynote speaker at the team’s rookie success program a few weeks ago. When he looked over the room, he might have seen a younger version of himself.
Wake wasn’t drafted out of Penn State, and had to play in Canada before finally catching on with an NFL team. Of the 11 rookies on the Dolphins’ roster, five were similarly overlooked on draft weekend.
Then there are players such as Tripp, who was drafted, but not until the fifth round. Wake’s message of perseverance and commitment spoke to Tripp, who had only one scholarship offer coming out of high school — Montana, which plays in college football’s Football Championship Subdivision.
“Nothing was given to me, and I had to work for everything,” Tripp said. “To hear him talk about it and see how he’s just taken it to that level, being here for so long, is cool. He can grab somebody and talk to them or not even say anything and just go out there and lead by example.
“People gravitate to that type of mentality and leadership.
Added Tripp: “When they see him having success, people want to follow in those footsteps.”
▪ The Dolphins elevated safety Brandian Ross to their active roster, waiving defensive tackle Bruce Gaston to make room.