Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake is 35-years old. He’s not playing like it.
At a time of the year when a lot of veteran players are coasting through training camp drills and preseason games, Wake is attacking the grind like an undrafted rookie trying to make an impression on his coaches.
He was easily one of the Dolphins most impressive players during joint workouts last week in Philadelphia, where he recorded several sacks in team drills and dominated the Eagles tackles in one-on-one work.
Asked last to reveal the secret to what it is that allows him to continue to play at such a high level at such an advanced age (at least for the NFL), Wake said it’s “Nothing dramatic” but in reality it is.
“I feel like every year I’ve been increasing (what I do to prepare for a season,’’ Wake told reporters during the week. “So I’m probably stronger now than I was in 2009.
“Does that help offset some of the explosiveness (I’ve lost) from when I was 27 versus now? Maybe it evens itself back out. I don’t know I just try to improve every day.
“I lift and I try to work with a heaver weight. If I’m running two miles day after day, I feel I have to lower my time. I compete with myself day in and day out and find a way to improve. Maybe that offsets Father Time’s grasp on me to some degree.’’
Maybe. Or maybe it’s the fact the Dolphins have taken to using Wake almost exclusively on passing downs, thereby preserving him for the plays in which he can make the greatest impact.
Whatever it is, Wake and the Dolphins need to keep doing what they’ve been doing because the Dolphins defense is one that requires its edge rusher to be the triggers.
The Dolphins are expected to play a lot of basic zone coverages in the secondary under new coordinator Matt Burke this year and the best way to make that work effectively is to get a lot disruption out of the pass rushers.
With the exception of Wake, who had 11.5 sacks after missing most of 2015 with a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Dolphins didn’t get anywhere near enough of that a year ago.
That’s why they traded for Williams Hayes and drafted Charles Harris, but even at 35, Wake is still the most effective pass rusher the Dolphins have and it seems his work ethic and determination to stay that way is the biggest reason for it.