The major reason that six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor will probably end up in Foxboro and not back in Miami has more to do with the presence of CFL export Cameron Wake than any alleged rift between Taylor and vice president of football operations Bill Parcells.
Despite being 27 years old, Wake made his practice-field debut at a rookie minicamp last weekend; his only NFL experience came at a Giants training camp in 2005 when he was unable to crack the roster as an undrafted player out of Penn State.
The 6-3, 240-pound Wake eventually made it to the CFL where he was named Defensive
Player of the Year the past two seasons while amassing 39 sacks, including 23
last year for the British Columbia Lions.
"I went a different route than a lot of guys who went straight from college
right into the pros. I took a year off. A lot of people say it's a blessing
in disguise and I feel the same way," Wake said. "It wasn't fun when
it happened. Believe me. I was devastated like anyone else would be. But when
you take a year off because something you love is taken away from you, you learn
how much you appreciate it. I worked my butt off to get back to where I am now."
"I've just got to shake the dust off and get back into the swing of things."
Sparano realizes that it might take time to convert Wake from a defensive end
to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, particularly in pass coverage of tight
ends and running backs.
"I've seen some explosiveness and a lot of fast twitch out of him,"
Sparano said. "The caliber of guy he is going to play against every day
is going to be a cut above where he was in Canada, so that is the thing he will
have to most get used to. They guy played with a high motor and he played with
a lot of speed when you watched him on tape from that league."
Sparano said that Wake's CFL experience and his desire to prove NFL evaluators
wrong for not drafting or signing him four years ago should help in the long
"I see a little chip on his shoulder," Sparano said. "When I
was in college, I used to recruit some junior college players, because those
junior college players every once in a while came in a little more mature and
they knew the drill. It's like you are getting a junior college right now. He's
been out there."
But with Taylor, who turns 35 this year, it seems that the Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are more likely landing spots than his hometown team.
"I know the Jason thing is out there. Jeff, myself and Bill have visited
it recently, and we'll revisit it at some point here," Sparano said last
Wake doesn't care who he's competing with.
"I just came here to play football, wherever it is on the field I am going to compete, if it's against someone who was someone drafted or a Pro Bowler I just come out here to be the best player that I can be," he said.
Jason Taylor News
Hot Topic: Patriots - Taylor Closing In On A Deal?