Colts Camp Battles: Outside Linebacker
By Evan Reller
Nov 17, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole (58) celebrates a sack during the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
2014 Stats: 40 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
PFF Grade: +6.5
Cole was brought in for two reasons: 1) to shore up a sorely lacking pass rush, and 2) as insurance against further injury to Mathis (or an extended absence). While Cole isn’t quite the pass rusher Mathis is, his career is nothing to turn your nose up at. In 10 seasons with the Eagles, Cole racked up 85.5 sacks and 19 forced fumbles. His numbers have come down a bit over the past three seasons, but his 6.5 sacks in 2014 last season ties the team high from the Colts.
Cole only missed one game last season, and also saw his performance way over the final four games of the year. Part of that decline was due to injuries and the rest the caliber of opponents (Cowboys twice, Seahawks, and Giants). It also doesn’t help that Chip Kelly doesn’t put as much importance on defense or do anything on offense to help out the other unit.
Experience is going to win the right side linebacker position and Cole will start whenever Mathis can’t play. I expect Mathis and Cole to split time at this position and the Colts could even work out packages where both are on the field at the same time. In a nickel package, the Colts could put either Mathis or Cole (or even Newsome) at defensive end with the other playing linebacker and likely blitzing.
Next: The Leader in Sacks