DAVIE, Fla. — Cameron Wake and Dion Jordan are expected to be working at opposite ends of the Miami Dolphins defensive line this season.
They also began their NFL careers in vastly different ways.
Jordan, an edge rusher from Oregon, was Miami’s first-round draft pick in April. Wake went undrafted out of Penn State and played two years in the Canadian Football League before joining the Dolphins in 2009.
“Obviously, my path coming out as that no-name guy not drafted, got cut, went to Canada, I had to work hard to where I am today,” said Wake, who spent 2006 as a mortgage broker after being cut by the New York Giants. “I wasn’t blue-chip, big-name, this all-American.
“I had to scratch and claw for everything I got to get where I am today. But it’s more rewarding.”
Wake spoke Thursday at the end of Miami’s three-day minicamp at Nova Southeastern University. The players went their separate ways at day’s end and won’t gather again until training camp starts July 20.
Jordan did not attend any of the organized team activities (OTAs) or the minicamp because his school remained in session. Oregon classes go well into June because it uses a quarter system instead of semesters.
“I would hope it’s because we want young men to get their education, that’s great,” Miami coach Joe Philbin said of the “quarter system” rule allowing players to skip workouts. “Everybody abides by the rule. So I’m fine with it.
“At the end of the day, we plan on having that player for a long time, and we’ll get through that.”
Jordan will join his new teammates at the beginning of training camp, or once he and the Dolphins agree to a contract.
“I’m always curious to see the new guy whoever it is,” Wake said. “Obviously, he comes with high expectations. Once he gets in this building, he’s going to be raring to go.
“I know the day he appears, it’s going to be pedal to the medal.’’
Whether Jordan starts or begins as a situational player, Miami’s defense will sport newcomers at linebacker (Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler) and in the secondary (Brent Grimes).
“We had a lot of fun last year, going out there and challenging ourselves each week in and out. We had a tough schedule,” Wake said of Miami’s 7-9 season. “At the end of the day, we didn’t end up where we wanted to.
“We had various areas we needed to improve to take a step in the right direction.”
Two areas of focus for Miami’s defense this spring has been creating more turnovers and preventing big plays.
“We’ve got guys flying around out here who are making plays all over the field,” Wake said. “Those are the kind of guys we want out here, guys who run around like their hair is on fire and make plays.’’
Wake clearly enters the season as a team leader. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler who earned First Team All-Pro honors last season after compiling 53 tackles and 15 sacks in 2012. It was his first year at end after having played outside linebacker.
“Everybody likes to put me in that box of that pass rush specialist,” said Wake, who had 37.5 sacks combined the past there seasons. “When I first came in with Jason Taylor and Joey Porter full-time starters, I just came in on third down. But I was always a guy who felt like I could be an every-down type of guy.”
Jordan will have to show the Dolphins coaches he can be an every-down player, something Wake has proven.
“I’m not a guy trying to rest on what happened in the past. Last year is last year,” he said. “I can’t go out there and stick my chest out. If anything, they’re going to come out there and make it more difficult for you. You have to go out and work hard, if not even harder.”