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Dolphins downplay distractions


Dealing with an NFL investigation on the heels of one player leaving the team and another being suspended isn't considered typical.

But Miami defensive end Cam Wake insists it is business as usual at the Dolphins practice facility.

"It's actually been the epitome of normal," Wake said in a conference call with Charlotte media. "We've gone about our business, our schedule's been the same.  We go out to practice just like two, three, four, five weeks ago, and everybody here is professional.  You know you have a job to do.  

"You study your plays, go to the weight room and you just conduct business as normal, so it's not something that's really been a big deal for us.  Obviously, everybody on the outside of the locker room seems to be making a lot of fuss about it, but here in Miami, at the facility it's business as usual."

That's the mindset head coach Joe Philbin has tried to instill as the 5-5 Dolphins prepare to host the 7-3 Carolina Panthers – winners of six straight.

"We have a job to do. The NFL is a 16-game regular season, and our guys have been focusing on the task at hand," Philbin said in a conference call. "This week, we are focused on playing an excellent football team that is playing extremely well."

Despite the distractions, the Dolphins have won two of their last three games.

Wake ended Miami's four-game losing streak in stunning fashion three weeks ago by recording a safety in overtime to defeat the AFC North leading Cincinnati Bengals, 22-20.  

"To be on the defensive side of the ball and be able to do something that kind of sets the game, it was really special," Wake said. "I was very fortunate to have things turn out the way they did.

"I just had to do my job and get the ball on the ground and you look up and see it was a safety, we scored and the game is over. That is one of them that I am definitely going to remember for quite a while."

After a 22-19 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, the Dolphins returned home and earned a 20-16 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Week 11.

"If you look at our schedule and our games, it's really come down to execution in the fourth quarter and stepping up and making plays when the game is on the line," Philbin said. "I was pleased that Sunday against San Diego that's what we did. We made enough plays in the fourth quarter to win the game."

Now the Dolphins are determined to sustain that momentum against the surging Panthers.

"We're coming off a game where we feel like we can take the momentum and kind of build with it -- try and make sure we have our season go in a positive direction," Wake said. "It's going to be a good game on Sunday.  Obviously, both teams are looking for a win, and there are a lot of things that show that we can match up pretty well. I'm definitely looking forward to it."

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