DAVIE, Fla. -- To a man, there is still doubt within the Miami Dolphins' locker room that the high-profile scandal involving former offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito was a result of poor leadership. The NFL's investigation detailed in the Ted Wells report only furthered that national view of the team.
That has put leadership as one of the top items that will help make the Dolphins successful in 2014. The roster has talent. But last year's scandal and late-season collapse cost Miami a playoff berth.
According to Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake, lack of leadership isn't an issue.
"Obviously, it's unfortunate what happened [last season] and we're not going to dive too deep into that," Wake said. "But, as a whole, you look around this team [and] there are guys that may be vocal or guys that maybe do it by example. We have leaders all over the place."
Wake is part of a defensive line that must provide leadership on and off the field. In addition to Wake, arguably the team's best player, Miami's defensive line also has 2013 sack leader Olivier Vernon, dynamic second-year player Dion Jordan and veteran defensive tackles Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and Earl Mitchell.
On paper, defensive line is the deepest area of the team and will be expected to set the tone on a weekly basis.
"When it comes down to it, the D-line's the heart and soul of the defense and, if we're not doing what we have to do, then things start falling apart," Vernon said. "That's just one thing we're trying to focus on now and make sure it goes into the season."
Many in South Florida and around the country will be monitoring the Dolphins' locker-room leadership this upcoming season. It will still take the team coming together and leadership if Miami wants to end its five-season playoff drought.
"I was never of the impression that [leadership] was lacking. But, just like I don't feel like my strength is lacking or my conditioning is lacking, I'm going to work on that as well," Wake said. "Working on leadership, making it a more prominent part of our organization, I don't see anything wrong with that."