Best yet to come? Dolphins not sold when it comes to Wake

Having just completed his second season in the NFL, Cameron Wake would typically be viewed as a player who has his best football ahead of him.

Wake is a special case, however. The standout pass rusher spent two years out of football after being cut by the New York Giants as a rookie in 2005, then starred in the Canadian Football League for two seasons before the Dolphins signed him in 2009. He will 29 when the new NFL season is scheduled to begin in September.

Wake has lobbied to replace the modest four-year, $2.3 million (plus incentives) deal he signed before he piled up 19.5 sacks in his first two seasons in Miami, but the Dolphins are wary the linebacker could plateau in the near future, according to a report in Thursday's edition of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

"He could (regress) if he doesn't do what good players in our league do, which would be to take the next step to grow," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said earlier this offseason. "There's obviously things that Cam can improve on. Cam would be the first to tell you that."

Sparano said the underestimation of Wake's talent is what fuels him. The linebacker was one of the game's best defenders last season, finishing with 14 sacks and three forced fumbles.

"Cam is a guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder from the journey that it took for him to get to where he is right now. He does not forget it," the coach said. "If you look in his locker it paints a picture of where this guy has come from, to where he's gotten.

"He plays with that type of passion. Me and him have had conversations about not forgetting what it took to get there. It's made him right now a good player, and I think this guy has better than good in him."

The Sun Sentinel reported that Wake recently bought a $1.45 million home in Plantation, Fla., close to the Dolphins' facility in Davie. It's clear that Wake wants to remain with Miami, but it remains to be seen if the team will tear up a contract that amounts to one of the NFL's best bargains.

Wake was voted by his peers at No. 63 on NFL Network's "The Top 100: Players of 2011" list.

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