After starting only once in 14 appearances as a Dolphins rookie in 2009, defensive end Cameron Wake has started more games than any other Dolphin since then: 84.
That’s about to change, with the Dolphins shifting Wake to a pass-rush specialist role and moving newcomer Jason Jones into the starting lineup, opposite Mario Williams.
Wake, during a private moment Wednesday, said he has known for months that the change was in the works and he’s at peace with it.
“To say I have to be a starter, that’s never been me,” Wake said. “I’ve started for teams that weren’t great and what does that do for me? Winning is important to me.”
Wake, 34 and coming off a ruptured Achilles’, said he isn’t sure how many plays he will average a game but sees value in monitoring his snaps.
“It’s going to keep me fresh until February,” Wake said, holding out hopes of a Dolphins Super Bowl appearance.
“You have to think big picture. Could I play 50 [snaps]? But will that help overall? You need maturity as a player.”
Wake, who had seven sacks in seven games last season and 70 in his Dolphins career, said his new role is for “the greater good. As much as you want to play every play, the season is a marathon.”
• Jones has been a decent pass rusher in his career, with 28 sacks in eight seasons, including 4.5 in 15 starts for Detroit last season. But as a starter who will play a lot on first and second downs, Jones will have no greater responsibility that setting the edge on running plays.
“Setting the edge is something I’ve been doing my whole career and it’s something coming here, we have to do,” he said. “I’m pretty good [against the run].”
Jones appreciates the opportunity to start, though he said the Dolphins made him no promises about that when he signed here.
“Anytime you’re starting in the NFL, that’s a big accomplishment,” he said. “We’ve got so many pieces on this d-line. For all of us, we’ll be fresh going into the fourth quarter. We’ll just throw a lot of people at them at different times.”
• Linebacker Jelani Jenkins, coming off a knee procedure, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and expressed optimism, but no certainty, about his availability for Sunday’s game in Seattle.
Center Mike Pouncey (hip) and receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring) sat out for a third consecutive day. Anthony Steen would replace Pouncey.
The receiver situation is a bit more complicated. Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills are expected to start, but the Dolphins are determining who will get the most snaps as a No. 3 receiver among newcomer Justin Hunter and draft picks Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant.
Asked who has excelled from that group of three receivers, coach Adam Gase said coaches are still evaluating and wondered “is the best thing to put [tight ends] Dion [Sims] and Jordan [Cameron] out there and roll with those guys?”
The Dolphins have said that Carroo and Grant need to eliminate mistakes and Carroo said he has made significant improvement in that area in the past week. “Being able to be where I’m supposed to be, be where coaches can trust me, I’ve gotten better at that,” Carroo said.
Regarding Grant, Gase said: “There are certain things that he has done well, and there are certain things he has struggled at. We’re trying to get him caught up to speed more.”
• Besides Jenkins, running back Isaiah Pead (hamstring) was limited. Defensive linemen Earl Mitchell (calf), Terrence Fede (knee) and guard Laremy Tunsil (knee) practiced in full.
• Gase announced that five captains were elected in a vote of players: Ryan Tannehill and Pouncey on offense, Wake and safety Reshad Jones on defense and safety Michael Thomas on special teams.
“The fact the we did have a good variety of people voted for ... is encouraging, because that means a lot of guys look up to guys than just those five,” Gase said. “I think those five guys, at least in my experience here so far, stood out as leaders to me. Those are guys that are always approaching me. You see them working with younger guys. I guess I wasn't really surprised by who was voted in.”
Tannehill has been elected as a captain for the second time in five seasons. “For the last three years, [he’s grown] more and more as a leader. It's something that this team needs,” Landry said.
• Incidentally, Gase said today that he allows Tannehill to tell him plays he likes and doesn’t like when he draws up the game plan.
• The Dolphins’ practice squad includes one player who wasn’t with the team in training camp (linebacker Brandon Watts, who was cut by Minnesota last weekend) and nine who were: guard Jamil Douglas, tight end Thomas Duarte, safety A.J. Hendy, offensive tackle Ulrick John, defensive ends Cleyon Laing and Jordan Williams, cornerback Lafayette Pitts, receiver Rashawn Scott and linebacker James Burgess.