When Trent Cole first appeared in a postseason game, Terron Armstead was not yet old enough to drive.
That was back in 2007. On Sunday, seven years later, the veteran and the rookie will square off at Lincoln Financial Field.
Since Week 11, Cole has the third-most sacks (seven) in the NFL behind only Carolina’s Greg Hardy (10) and the Giants’ Justin Tuck (9.5) Armstead, meanwhile, had not played an NFL snap until Week 16 when he took over as the Saints’ starting left tackle. After a shaky outing against the Panthers, the 22-year-old rookie looked better against the Bucs.
“He’s very athletic, very athletic,” Cole said. “He’s got some weak spots. But that’s the thing going into the game. You’ve gotta take advantage of them. Obviously they help him out with a bunch of chips and stuff, he gets helped out. It’s a challenge for him. It’s a challenge for me.”
Asked if he thinks the Saints will give Armstead help against him, Cole replied: “They better.”
Like Eagles rookie Lane Johnson, Armstead (6-5, 306), a third-round pick, showed off his athleticism at the Combine. Unlike Johnson, he did not play big-time college football. Because he wanted to continue to participate in track & field, Armstead decided to go to Arkansas Pine-Bluff where he played in 37 games.
The Saints’ offensive line has performed well for the most part this season. They’ve got Pro Bowlers (Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans) at both guard spots. Center Brian De La Puente and right tackle Zach Strief provide plenty of experience too. But Armstead will be appearing in just his third NFL game.
The Eagles’ pass-rush, meanwhile, didn’t get home against Kyle Orton, a quarterback who got rid of the ball quickly. In terms of matchups, if they want to pressure Drew Brees, their best hope might be Cole matched up against Armstead.
“This is the best I’ve ever felt at the end of a season,” Cole said. “I can tell, just watching film, you can see what kind of level you’re playing at. And I see a lot of guys just playing at a high level. You look around, you see teams starting to die off, guys getting injured and stuff. But that’s not the case here.
“This team, I think guys are just very motivated. They know that we have a special team here. We have something. All we’ve gotta do is just keep doing what we’re doing and take this journey and get to the Super Bowl.”