Eagles DE Trent Cole loaded for bear

 Posted by at 2:07 pm
Sep 082010

Eagles DE Trent Cole

September 8 Philadelphia Inquirer:

Trent Cole, an outdoors enthusiast who owns a company that makes hunting videos and drives a jacked-up truck painted to look like camouflage-colored leaves, is after large quantities of game this season.

“I’m hunting for 23 sacks,” Cole said recently, enough to break the NFL record of 221/2 that is held by former Giant Michael Strahan.

It’s a lofty goal, even for a two-time Pro Bowler. He would have to nearly double last season’s 121/2 sack output.

The arrival of speedy first-round draft pick Brandon Graham could have a mixed impact on Cole’s ambitions. On one hand, it could prevent teams from focusing their blocking on Cole. On the other, it might provide some competition for getting to quarterbacks.

“I see greatness. I see us having a great time this season, flying around the ball, making plays, sacks, celebrating after sacks,” Cole said after working with his new defensive teammates in training camp. “I can picture it right now.”

Graham’s addition is the one change to a starting defensive line that is otherwise stable.

Cole, coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2009, will start at right defensive end while the sturdy and steady Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley man the tackle positions.

Neither Patterson nor Bunkley stands out on highlight reels but they plug the center of the line of scrimmage, blocking running lanes and allowing the Eagles’ speedy edge players to race to the ball. They are primarily called on to hold the point of attack and prevent quarterbacks from stepping up to escape pressure.

They have combined to start every game for the last two years.

Behind them is Trevor Laws, a disappointing, to this point, second-round pick in 2008. He had a strong training camp to start but slowed toward the end. He has moved up to the first-team nickel defense in the hope that he can add quarterback pressure up the middle. Undrafted free-agent tackle Antonio Dixon should provide some depth.

Head coach Andy Reid, who preaches the importance of having a defensive line rotation to keep his pass rushers fresh, made several changes to the group’s reserves, bringing in Darryl Tapp, through a trade, and using a third- round pick on Daniel Te’o-Nesheim to bolster the pass rush. Neither stood out in the buildup to the regular season.

Tapp, Te’o-Nesheim and Graham all fit the Eagles‘ small but fast mold – personified at its best by Cole.

“They built this defense to be fast,” Cole said.

Eagles coaches hope the new faces on the front line can create pressure without a blitz. The Eagles tied for third in the NFL in sacks last year with 44, but often got to the quarterback by bringing numerous extra rushers, leaving less support for the team’s defensive backs.”

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