Davis confident Cole will succeed at linebacker

Davis confident Cole will succeed at linebacker

July 26, 2013, 7:00 am
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Eight years playing defensive end.
 
More than 100 games rushing the passer.
 
An entire career doing one thing and doing it really well.
 
And now, at 31 years old, suddenly Trent Cole is an outside linebacker.
 
“I’ll do anything they ask me,” Cole said Thursday as he arrived at the NovaCare Complex for his ninth Eagles training camp. “I’ll play any position. Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it. I’m excited about it.”
 
It’s one thing to say it.

Cole’s coaches believe it.

Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis says the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end is a lock to successfully convert to outside linebacker in his new hybrid 3-4 front.
 
“He’s doing a great job, and I think the biggest thing starts with Trent,” Davis said. “He came in, and his attitude and his mindset and the energy he brings every day to trying to learn a new skill set is really why it will be successful.
 
“We’re still going to let Trent do what Trent does best the most amount of time, but his open-mindedness and the attitude that he’s brought to it is going to help him succeed. It really will.”

Cole is third in Eagles history with 71 sacks, trailing only Reggie White (124) and Clyde Simmons (76).

Since he entered the league in 2005 as a fifth-round pick out of Cincinnati, only four defensive ends have more sacks -- Jared Allen (108), Julius Peppers (81.5), John Abraham (79) and Robert Mathis (77.5).

From 2008 through 2011, only Cole, Allen and Mathis had nine or more sacks each year.

But last year was a tough one for Cole on a defense in utter disarray. His defensive coordinator was fired. His position coach was fired. The Eagles went 4-12, the defense was one of the worst in the NFL, and Cole managed a career-low three sacks.

Now he’s playing for a new coach and a new staff with new teammates.

And a new position. How tough is it to become a linebacker after eight years in the NFL?
 
“I think it’s very hard," Davis said, "but it’s a tribute to Trent and his attitude and the way he’s choosing to look at it. They were all very frustrated [last year].
 
“Trent did not have the sacks or the season he wanted in the wide nine 4-3, which you think he would, and I think he’s very open and receptive to some of the ways we’re going to use him and how we’re going to get him back to that place that he was.
 
“I think he is. Sometimes that’s great in a ninth year in the league. A little new, a new challenge. He’s a prideful man and he’s going to rise to the challenge. He will. Trent won’t fail.”