NASHVILLE – Cameron Wake has a new NFL home, and he’s ready to get after quarterbacks with the Titans.
“It’s a place that I have admired from afar – most recently we played each other in the longest game in NFL history,” a smiling Wake said at his introductory press conference on Friday, referring to the Titans-Dolphins game in Week One of the 2018 season. “It’s a tough, smart, disciplined team, and I think it fits right in with some of the things I like to think of that I bring to the table.
“It seems like a match made in heaven for me.”
The Titans on Friday signed Wake, a pass-rushing defensive end who has 98 career sacks, all with the Miami Dolphins.
Wake, 37, has posted double-digit sack totals in five of his 10 NFL seasons, including a 10.5-sack season in 2017. Wake recorded six sacks in 2018 while playing limited snaps. He recorded 360 total tackles, one interception, and 22 forced fumbles in addition to his 98 sacks during his time with the Dolphins. Wake’s 98 sacks are the second-most ever by a player in a Dolphins uniform, behind only Jason Taylor.
Earlier in his career, Wake was motivated by being passed over by NFL teams. He decided to wear the No. 91 to remind himself NFL teams invited 90 players to minicamp that were better than him as he headed to the Canadian Football League.
Now he wants to prove he’s still got it.
“I’ve been old since I was 28,” Wake said with a smile. “Every year I am too old. Anything that’s happened, I’ve been injured, and it’s like “It’s over. He’s done. If I had nickel for every time I’d probably go buy a team.
“It is not necessarily proving people wrong. I do what I do for people who believe. I don’t do it for the doubters, I do it for the people who believe in me. … I guess that chip has carried me – nobody wanted me back then, and you have to hit the reset button and go back at it and continue to be myself and that’s gotten me where I am. And it’s not going to change either.”
Wake (6-3, 263) played in 146 games with 125 starts with the Dolphins. Wake is a five-time Pro Bowl selection (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016) and a four-time Associated Press All-Pro (first team 2010 and 2012; second team 2014 and 2016).
He was named one the franchise’s 50 greatest players on the Miami Dolphins 50th Season All-Time Team.
Also in Miami, Wake was twice named the winner of the Don Shula Leadership Award, and he was the 2016 recipient of the Dolphins Ed Block Courage Award after he tore his Achilles’ tendon midseason in 2015. When he returned, he continued to harass quarterbacks.
The Titans believe he’ll be a nice addition on a team with some young pass rushers, a group that includes rising second-year edge rusher Harold Landry. Wake is regarded as a hard-worker who will bring a veteran presence to the Titans.
He’s also proven he can still get after the quarterback.
Wake’s six sacks in 2018 came despite playing less than 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. Since 2006, Wake has posted the second highest pressure percentage (16.7 %) in the NFL, behind only Von Miller (17.1), according to Pro Football Focus. Wake generated 54 pressures on 313 pass-rushes in 2018, per PFF. On 517 defensive snaps last season, Wake recorded an overall grade of 81.6 and was among the league’s most productive pass rushers, per PFF.
Heading into free agency, the Titans needed more help from a pass rushing standpoint following the retirement of Brian Orakpo, during an offseason when veteran Derrick Morgan became an unrestricted free agent.
Wake not only has a heck of a resume, but he also has plenty of experience that should help the team’s younger players develop.
“I was blessed, at the beginning of my career, being under some pretty good guys who played in this league, like Jason Taylor, Joey Porter, and guys like that, guys I had an opportunity to learn from and ask questions, be a sponge around,” Wake said. “That wisdom they’d gained from all the years they’d played at the time I was coming in, I grabbed whatever nuggets I could.
“I’ve been fortunate to play in this league a long time and gained some of those nuggets myself. So being able to pass that on to whoever is upcoming in this league and on this team, it is something I think of as a responsibility, for the older players to make sure the guys coming up can be successful as well.”
Wake, who began his NFL career with the Dolphins in 2009, racked up 14 sacks in 2010, 15 sacks in 2012, 11.5 sacks in 2014, and 11.5 sacks in 2016 before his 10.5-sack season in 2017.
Wake started 14 games for the Dolphins in 2018, with 14 starts, and tallied 36 tackles, 17 quarterback hits, six sacks, five tackles for loss, and a pass deflection in addition to his six sacks.
Before joining the Dolphins, Wake played two seasons in the Canadian Football League in 2007-08, and he recorded 39 sacks over those two seasons while earning Western Division All-Star honors as well as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award both years.
Wake, who played at Penn State, initially joined the Giants in April 2015, but he was released before the season.
After jumpstarting his career in the CFL, Wake’s NFL career took off, and the Titans now hope he’ll continue to make an impact in Tennessee.
“One of my coaches always said, ball is ball, and it doesn’t matter whether you do it on the moon, on the grass,” Wake said. “At the end of the day, once you get across that line it’s football. It doesn’t really matter what color you are wearing or any of that stuff.
“It all comes from inside, and obviously I wouldn’t be here if that recipe didn’t work. Every day I put on my helmet and I go out there and I put my best foot forward and I reach my potential and I still do that to this day. That’s not going to change.”
TitansOnline.com looks back at the NFL career of former Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake, who signed with the Titans as an unrestricted free agent. (AP Photos)