By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) —There’s been something strange going on at Eagles’ training camp. Something that Eagles’ fans have seen sporadically over the years, though not as frequently as they may see in the Eagles’ new 3-4 defensive alignment this year.
That’s Trent Cole, formerly listed as a defensive end in Jimmy Johnson’s schemes, now peeling off into coverages under new defensive coordinator Bill Davis.
The 30-year old, nine-year veteran is coming off career lows in sacks (3) and tackles (40) last season. It wasn’t that long ago that Cole was considered one of the most underrated defensive ends in football. This new incarnation is as much an experiment as it is Cole’s last chance to still hold a relevant role with the Eagles.
“I’m still here and I’m making the best of it and I feel great out there,” Cole said. “I’ve watched James Harris, DeMarcus Ware, I’ve watched plenty of tape [of 3-4 outside linebackers] over the years. I’ve watched all of those guys. I might even call some of those guys. I watch them play and how they set the edge. I love the fact that I’m wide open and I can what I want to do.
“When I’m supposed to go on the rush, I can do what I want to do. If I have contain, that’s going to be easy for me. I’m excited about what I’m supposed to do. You can’t worry about it.”
Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly has continuously emphasized he’s going to play toward player’s strengths. That translates into not exposing Cole out in no-man’s land trying to cover a running back looping out of the backfield. Davis and Kelly may just let Cole go and attack the quarterback off the edge.
“I don’t know, I don’t even know if they’ll have me playing outside linebacker, I may be d-end,” Cole said. “You never know. We’re going to take the best of it and keep practicing the things we need to work at, and that’s a big key and something I worked on a little bit. I’m here to play ball, and no matter what position they put me in, I’m going to try to do my best at it.”
Cole admitted he never dropped in high school or at Cincinnati. It’s not until he played for Johnson that sometimes he would peel off and drop into coverage.
“People don’t realize this, but under Jim Johnson, we’ve been dropping, so it’s nothing new,” Cole said. “We haven’t been dropping and manning up on guys as much as we’re doing now. I’m going to be okay. So far, I think, it’s working.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.