DAVIE—Cameron Wake doesn’t want to hear it. It doesn’t even matter what it is.
Doesn’t care if people think he’s always one season away from being washed up.
No interest in Las Vegas putting the over/under for Dolphins wins at 7.5 this season.
Unconcerned about the team using its first-round pick on someone who could ultimately push him out the door.
“I’m not a guy that uses outside forces to push me; the fire is inside of me,” Wake said after Miami wrapped up minicamp Thursday. “They could’ve drafted 10 first rounders at defensive end, and I’m gonna still work the same. There’s been years they haven’t drafted anybody and I come out and work the same. Last year we didn’t have any d-linemen, but I worked my butt off like I do every year.”
Welcome back for another year of The Cam Wake Defiance Tour. He’ll take a week or so off before putting in a grueling month of workouts here—“Getting out here in the hottest part of the day and bleeding and sweating and crying,” as he describes it—so he can continue his battle against time.
Because of his late start in the NFL, Wake’s already 35 despite this being his ninth season. The doubt was thick this time last year, when he was still rehabbing a torn Achilles. Those concerns weren’t merely outside noise. They were serious enough for the organization to opt for a maintenance plan that had Wake coming off the bench the first five games of the season.
That was a mistake. Dolphins coach Adam Gase called it what it was this week. Wake contended at the time he was full-go, and the team probably would’ve been better off taking his word for it. Once Miami reinstated him as a starter with a full workload in Week 6, he had 10.5 sacks in 11 games.
Wake appreciated Gase’s willingness to take responsibility for that decision, but didn’t necessarily agree that the team got it wrong. While he disagreed with being held back, he went with it publicly and even now can’t say with certainty what the best route would’ve been.
“He’s being a great guy and saying that he made a mistake, the real reality is no one knows,” Wake said. “I could have played the first five games and burned out the last five. Who knows? The way it happened, it worked out for everybody and I’m pleased with the way the season went.”
Wake finished with 11.5 sacks (third-highest of his career), 29 tackles, five forced fumbles and an interception. He was exceptional. He capped his comeback with a trip to the Pro Bowl, his fifth, and it genuinely meant something to him. He called it “rewarding and memorable.”
Now comes the challenge of doing it again, this time without all the storybook feelings. In 2017, it’s simply Wake versus his age. If he can’t keep it going, it’ll be because he’s too old.
“The goals that I have are set inside myself, and I do everything I can to fight for those things,” he said when asked what he’s out to prove. “People who disbelieve, I couldn’t care less. I have people that I report to in the locker room, upstairs, my family, myself. Those are the guys I’m accountable to and ‘prove’ it to.”
The people “upstairs” are the ones who have the option to let him go next year with minimal salary cap consequences. They’re also the ones who drafted defensive end Charles Harris with the No. 22 pick. He’s a staggering 13 years younger, and he’s come here to take his Wake’s job—respectfully, of course.
Wake intends to fight off that transition as long as possible. Teams try to time these shifts as precisely as possible, but another season of double-digit sacks from Wake would be a welcome disruption of those plans. He feels as apt as ever to produce that kind of year.
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