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Dolphins hard-pressed to replace Cameron Wake on field and in locker room

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The mood in the Miami Dolphins' locker room was somber Thursday night, but it wasn’t for the reason you would expect.

Miami suffered a 36-7 blowout loss to the reigning champion New England Patriots. Yet the Dolphins players and coaches were more concerned about Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake, who suffered an Achilles injury.

"We are praying right now, man," safety Michael Thomas said. "We are praying that it's not that serious."

It was that serious. Wake was diagnosed with a torn Achilles, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Friday morning, and will miss the rest of the season.

Wake sat at his locker Thursday night with a look of dejection. There were two crutches waiting for him. The seventh-year veteran could no longer put weight on his left foot, which was heavily bandaged.

When Wake decided to finally meet with the media, he didn't have much to say.

"We'll get with the doctors and take it from there," he said several times in response to various questions.

The look on Wake's face said enough. It was a look of shock that a noncontact injury could derail a promising season. Wake was trying to rush Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the third quarter when his Achilles gave out.

"I would feel horrible, and I know his teammates would, too, if that's the case," Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell said Thursday night. "We'll see what happens with this. But if you lost a guy like Cam, it would hurt."

The Dolphins will be hard-pressed to replace Wake both on the field and in the locker room.

Wake, the player, is a force. The four-time Pro Bowler leads the Dolphins with seven sacks, including one Thursday.

Wake, the person, is just as valuable. He's a team captain, a reliable leader with a strong work ethic. His journey from undrafted free agent to one of the top defensive ends in the NFL is inspirational, and on a team with few natural leaders, this is arguably the hardest part for Miami to replace.

"He's the heart and soul," Thomas explained. "He makes big plays. He brings energy. He’s getting sacks. He means everything to this defense."

It will be up to backups Derrick Shelby and Terrence Fede to pick up the slack. Both are solid in their roles but unproven as full-time starters. Miami could use the combination of those two to fill one starting role, but neither will provide the significant impact of Wake.

"Coach has us all prepared for the worst-case scenarios," Fede said. "If they need me to step up my role, I'll be more than willing to do that. It's just, right now, it's prayers for Cam."