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Dolphins' Cam Wake accepts pass-rush role with sporadic playing time

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake is the consummate professional. In seven seasons, he’s never complained about his role and is consistently one of Miami’s hardest workers.

However, Wake’s patience was tested last week when he played just 16 snaps in a loss to the New England Patriots. It was unusual to see Wake, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, play so few snaps while healthy in an important game.

“Sure, I would like to play more if I played every snap but one,” Wake said Thursday. “But, again, long-term goals and short-term goals don’t always match up. So that’s just life. You have to think about the big picture. I’ve said this since OTAs [organized team activities] you got to think about the entire situation. Just to focus on one game is kind of silly.

“In this situation and the way it’s been played out, I’m accepting my role and I’m happy with it.”

Wake, 34, is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury last year. The Dolphins are taking an approach to preserve Wake’s snap count in September in an attempt to keep him fresh for November and December.

The pacing of last week’s game also had an impact on Wake’s playing time. The Patriots jumped out to a 21-0 lead early, and after losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a shoulder injury, they turned heavy toward the run in the second half. Miami prefers Wake to be a pass-rush specialist at this point of his career.

Wake received 29 snaps in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks, which seems more in line with the team’s target goal.

“We want Cam to have probably 25-30 rushes a game,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. “We had last week [16] plays, all passes. ... If we get into a normal game, the plan is to play Cam 25 snaps on pass-rush downs.”

Wake is one of Miami’s best players in the past 10 years, but he’s taking his new role in stride. He has 70 career sacks and three double-digit-sack seasons since joining the Dolphins in 2009.

The Dolphins (0-2) are double-digit favorites Sunday against the Cleveland Browns (0-2) and will face a rookie quarterback making his first start in Cody Kessler. However, Wake has been around long enough to know not take this game lightly.

“It's the NFL," Wake said. "Rookie or not, they're the greatest in the world. You got to play to win."