It has been said the professional football defensive end should be big, strong, quick, smart and fast. For Dolphins All-Pro Cameron Wake, all those adjectives have always applied. But in the 7th game of last season, the ‘fast’ and ‘quick’, in his game, suddenly disappeared when Wake was injured. At that point in the season Cameron Wake was 2nd in the NFL in sacks and appeared on his way to another pro bowl. But an Achilles injury sent him to the sideline, where he would remain for the rest of the season.
When Cameron Wake finished his college career at Penn State in 2004. Few teams had interest in drafting him. His career 8.5 sacks and 191 tackles, playing mostly linebacker certainly weren’t eye popping to the NFL. Wake however, did get signed by the NY Giants as an un-drafted free agent, in April of 2005. But things didn’t seem to work out and he was released just 2 months later.
Wake would not play any football in 2005 or in 2006, and it appeared his career would never get off the ground. But in 2007 Wake got a break. The BC Lions of the Canadian Football League (CFL) decided to sign Wake to a free agent contract. That wasn’t the only good news for Wake. He was also switched from linebacker to defensive end.
This is where Wake’s career took off. He picked up 3 sacks and was named Defensive Player of the Week, after his first game. Wake continued his stellar play finishing the season with 16 sacks, while being named Rookie of the year and Defensive player of the year at the same time.
In 2008 Wake showed his rookie season was no fluke. This time he picked up 23 QB sacks while winning Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award.
Now the NFL was really taking notice of Wake. Several teams showed real interest in him and he got an opportunity to work out for eight of them. It was the Miami Dolphins, however, that won the prize of Cameron Wake’s services.
Although he didn’t break into the Dolphins starting line up in his first year of 2009, he showed off his pass rushing skills in limited playing time, picking up 5 ½ QB sacks. In 2010 Wake did break into the Dolphins starting lineup as a linebacker and lead the team with 14 sacks. He was also voted to his first pro bowl, as an outside linebacker.
In 2011 the Dolphins used Wake at both defensive end and outside linebacker. Although he only picked up 8.5 sacks, his presence alone caused offenses to alter their game plans. While the Dolphins as a team were struggling, Wake’s game was ascending.
In 2012 Wake signed a new deal with the Dolphins and was asked to be a full time defensive end. He responded with 15 sacks, and was voted to his 2nd Pro Bowl, becoming only the second player in Dolphins history to make the Pro Bowl at two different positions.
Over the next two seasons in 2013 and 2014 Wake picked up 20 more sacks and a couple more pro bowl selections. He was arguably the best player on the team.
In 2015 things started out a bit slowly for Wake. He didn’t pick up his first sack until the 5th game of the season against Tennessee. But Wake also picked up sacks 2, 3, and 4, while dominating the entire game. In the next game against Houston he got to the QB two more times and if everyone hadn’t noticed, Wake was back in Pro Bowl form. But the 3rd quarter of his next game against New England would be both the end of Wake’s season; and his left Achilles tendon. Wake had already sacked Tom Brady once in the game and it seemed to be only a matter of time before he would get to him again. While Wake was rushing Brady it happened. The way Wake explained it, he simply couldn’t put any more weight on his left foot. He knew something was wrong as he went to the ground and stayed there until he was assisted off the field.
The diagnosis that he would miss the remainder of the season was a huge blow to Wake, but it was an even bigger blow to the Dolphins who only won 3 more games for the season.