NFL Network’s annual list of the top 100 players, as voted on by the league’s players, had Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake listed as the 10th best defensive end and 74th best player overall for 2018.
Yet through two weeks, Wake has played barely more than half of Miami’s snaps and his total snap count ranks 69th among all NFL defensive ends.
That’s by design, and Wake said he’s OK with that.
Wake has played 68 snaps, barely more than half of the Dolphins’ 134 total defensive snaps.
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Last year, he played 61 percent of Miami’s defensive snaps, compared with 50.1 percent this season.
“I’m enjoying it,” he said Friday. “Everyone is getting a chance to play. We all play about the same amount. My whole goal is winning.”
There are multiple reasons for Wake’s modest snap count:
▪ The Dolphins are trying to find snaps for five defensive ends.
▪ Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek believes in rotating his ends and tackles and keeping players fresh.
▪ Because Wake is 36, the Dolphins don’t want him to wear down.
Wake, asked if he feels fresher because of the rotation, didn’t answer directly but said: “Hopefully the strategy pays dividends. We try to do what’s best for both parties.”
By comparison, Robert Quinn has played 74 snaps, William Hayes 55, Andre Branch 62 and Charles Harris 45, according to Pro Football Focus.
‘When [the opposing] o-line wears down, we keep our legs fresh to go to the fourth quarter,” Quinn said.
Quinn said he has played once before on a team that gave snaps to five defensive ends.
“My rookie year, I was the fifth guy,” Quinn said. “Our head coach [Adam Gase] worries about the offense and he allows [defensive coordinator Matt] Burke and the rest of the coaches to let their players to do what they do instead of pick the poison from the head coach. He lets us handle it.”
Incidentally, Quinn is not only giving the Dolphins a formidable pass rush but he also has held up well against the run. In PFF’s ranking of all defensive ends, Quinn is rated 23rd against the run.
“They’ve been trying to run to the ball a whole lot [on me] my whole career and I’ve been holding up,” he said. “Keep me under the radar and keep running my way and my production points get a little bit better for me.”
Quinn was asked if the thought has occurred to him, during a game, how happy he is to be back at defensive end after playing linebacker for the Rams
“I’m just happy I’m on the right side,” he said. “I don’t care if they have me standing up or hand down, I just like to be on the right side of the defense. Granted, I get the left tackle all the time. But oh well. I prefer that. I am excited to be back over there.”
Wake and Quinn have bonded.
“We talk about our craft a lot,” Wake said. “We always bounce ideas and tips and tricks and wisdom off of each other. It’s a treat to have a guy like that. “
Here’s my Friday piece on what Albert Wilson has done better than any receiver in the league in recent years, plus a Reshad Jones update.