Trent Cole is well aware that this is his 10th season in the NFL. He is at the point in his career where there is some inner-dialogue going on about how much longer he will be able to play this game.
“You kind of [ask] yourself, ‘When is that time going to come when you say, ‘It’s time to put ’em up, Trent. You’re done. It’s your time,’ ” he said.
One thing that the 31-year-old knows for sure is he hasn't hit that point yet.
"I don't know what it is, man, but I feel good," said Cole, rolling into a half-crazed laugh, "and I'm ready to [expletive] rock-'n'-roll."
Cole actually came on down the stretch last season, at least statistically, as all eight of his sacks were in the second half of the season. (He added a sack in the playoff loss to the Saints as well.) Even when he wasn't registering takedowns, Billy Davis was pleased with the kind of impact he was having on the game.
"Trent Cole last year kept moving the quarterback off his spot but not getting sacks," said Davis, "but you were constantly seeing a quarterback come out the other way because Trent's side was collapsing."
Rushing the passer has been a big part of Cole's game since coming into the league back in 2005. It was the other responsibilities associated with his new role that needed some work.
"I'm a lot better this year as far as outside linebacker. I'm a lot more fluid in getting into coverage, it's easier now, it's normal for me to drop in coverage," he said. "I feel like I was still in d-end shape last year playing outside linebacker and now I'm in outside linebacker shape. But I still have to keep that d-end mentality."
In reality, Cole is not just an outside linebacker. He plays three-technique, defensive end and some 4i (shaded just inside the tackle) as well.
"I'm playing 4i a lot of times on a run, so I'm down in the trenches. All of a sudden you'll see me on a freakin' receiver. You have a d-end coming and playing outside, a guy coming off the line and then running downfield. But it is what it is. If I can do it, I'm going to put myself to the test and get myself to the highest level I can take myself to," said Cole.
He is still around the same weight as last season -- around 270 pounds -- but feels that he is better conditioned to play outside linebacker this year. His primary responsibility is still to rush the passer. While his sack total from last year is respectable, a closer look at the numbers shows that they all came over the course of four games. The other 12 regular-season games he had none. Davis clearly doesn't look at sacks alone to gauge whether a player is being productive, but as the primary "Predator" in this defense, the Eagles would benefit from some more takedowns out of the vet.
"We've gotta make it happen," said Cole, talking about quarterback pressure. "There is no getting around it."
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WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski on the chances of the Eagles trading Matt Barkley.
Nick Foles is only 25 years old, which should give the Eagles less incentive to want a younger developmental QB on the roster behind him. If this were 2009 and a 32 year old Donovan McNabb were your QB, it would be more appealing to keep a guy like Barkley around to try to develop into a starting caliber QB. But with a young, promising QB in Foles and a capable vet in Sanchez in place, Barkley's value to the Eagles isn't all that great.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com put together an Eagles season preview, and listed the following under "Biggest Concern."
The secondary is ordinary, even after adding Jenkins. The defense overall, in fact, lacks a transcendent talent. Where is the pass rusher who will consistently win one-on-one matchups? Fletcher Cox is an underrated player, but that typifies the defense. It's a group of guys who can make the case as underrated, not All-Pros. For all of Kelly's innovations on offense and running a team, the defense risks being boring. First-round pick Marcus Smith doesn't look ready to make an instant impact.
The other concern here is a Nick Foles regression at quarterback. He never looked quite as impressive on film last year as he did in the box score, especially down the stretch. No one expects him to repeat his historical TD:INT ratio last season, but would it really be that big a surprise if Foles experienced some of the growing pains he avoided last year? A great offensive line and running game are huge allies.
Rosenthal still has the Eagles winning the division.
Practice continues in preparation for the Jets. Sheil has an All-22 piece in the works.