Dolphins DE Cameron Wake, 34, defying age and convention

SAN DIEGO – The second-oldest player on the Miami Dolphins' roster also is one of the hottest.

Cameron Wake, 34, is a four-time Pro Bowler. But what he is accomplishing through the first nine games of this season may be his most impressive feat during his tenure in Miami. The eight-year veteran is leading the Dolphins with seven sacks, which includes a dominant run of 5.5 sacks in the past three games.

Wake had two important sacks against quarterback Philip Rivers in Sunday’s 31-24 win over the San Diego Chargers.

“He’s really made it tough on every tackle he’s gone against,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Monday. “The way he’s coming off the ball and how physical he’s playing, it’s been impressive to watch. For a guy that’s been playing as long as he has, he’s playing with great energy. You can see the passion for the game and the passion he has for this team by just the way he plays.”

It wasn’t supposed to look this easy for Wake. Last year he suffered a major Achilles injury that ended his season. Wake, one of the fittest players on the team, was diligent in his rehab and made sure he was ready for the start of the regular season.

Even still, Miami’s coaches planned to keep Wake on a limited pitch count early in an effort to keep him healthy for a full season. Only long snapper John Denney (37) is older, and he plays a less physical position.

But circumstances change throughout the course of a season.

Veteran free-agent pickup Mario Williams didn’t perform up to expectations as a starter and Miami got off to a 1-4 start. Wake handled his limited role like a professional and was ready to answer the call when coaches wanted him back in the starting lineup.

Wake responded by getting at least a half-sack or more in each of his four starts. He also has three forced fumbles, and the Dolphins are 4-0 in games where Wake is the starter.

“I didn’t realize that, actually. But the feeling started a long time ago,” Wake said. “Guys buying in, making sure that we trust in one another. There have been times on probably other teams when some bad play happens, and guys hang their heads.”

Barring injury, Wake is expected to remain in his starting role. Whether it’s reps or overall production, Wake continues to defy convention and exceed expectations.

“I think it’s just the whole coming off an injury last year and then when we were trying to progress him in,” Gase said. “I feel like he is closer to whatever 100 percent can be in the NFL than what he was probably early in the year.”