By David Dwork

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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Since arriving in Miami, head coach Adam Gase has been very popular with pretty much everyone he’s had to interact with.

That includes players, fellow coaches and even reporters.

From day one he has been nothing but honest and straightforward, whether it’s telling a player where he needs to improve or giving the media a reason as to why he made a certain personnel decision.

That happened on Wednesday following the Dolphins second day of minicamp.

Gase was asked about the way he used Cameron Wake last year, keeping his snaps limited during the early part of the season despite the team stumbling to a 1-4 start.

“Are you trying to throw the first five games into my face there?” Gase asked with a laugh. “I made a mistake. I should have been playing him more early. We were trying to think long term. We trying to think let’s get him the most important snaps during games.”

Wake has been arguably Miami’s best player since he arrived in 2009, but he was 34 years old and coming off of Achilles surgery when the season began so Gase’s decision was understandable.

During the month of September, Wake averaged playing just 30 percent of the Dolphins defensive plays.

“When we were getting down, it really put us in a bad spot because we didn’t want to stick him out there and all they were doing was pounding the football,” Gase said. “We wanted him in there when teams were passing it, we just kept getting behind, and that was putting us at a disadvantage.”

Gase wanted to keep Wake fresh and make sure he had something left in the tank for the latter stages of the season.

As the weeks past, it became more and more evident that Miami’s defensive cornerstone was good to go.

“That’s when we decided we have to make sure he’s out there more,” Gase said. “That’s why we made that switch.”

Wake was let off his leash and proceeded have a Pro Bowl season, accumulating 11.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and his first career interception in just 11 starts.

He played over 60 percent of Miami’s defensive snaps the rest of the season and combined with Andre Branch to create one of the more fierce pass-rushing duos in the AFC.

“We thought we were being smart and it backfired on us,” Gase said. “What we should have done was just let him play.”

Completely healthy and in great physical shape, count on Wake being on the field for the majority of Miami’s defensive snaps in the coming season.

“It’s exciting to see a guy like that,” teammate Ndamukong Suh said of Wake. “[Not only] have the year he had last year, but see how he’s coming out and being just as good, if not better, in a lot of ways. I think this will be a very fun and exciting year for him. Obviously, he’s not having to worry about injury or anything of that sort, having a good offseason from the looks of it. Obviously, being with him the last four weeks, he’s in great shape.”

Wake is entering his ninth season in the NFL, all with Miami.  He’s been to the Pro Bowl five times accumulated 81.5 career sacks but didn’t get his first taste of playoff football until January’s Wild Card loss in Pittsburgh.

A sentiment echoed from Dolphins players throughout OTAs and minicamp is that the goal isn’t just making the playoffs but to be a team that contends for a Super Bowl.

Improving on their 10-win campaign from last year will be a good start.


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