According to an interview by the Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder, Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Trent Cole‘s surgery earlier this season was potentially “career-ending”:
"“(Coming back) was far-fetched,” Cole told Holder. “With this kind of surgery, it can be career-ending, at least season-ending. I didn’t know. I just knew that with my mentality and the pride that I have as a player. That kind of pride that can get you hurt again (laughing), that I would try to make it back.”“But you never know.”“I was playing with it for a while and you kind of get numb to it after a while,” added Cole. “But it affects your body heavily. Not just pain going down your legs. It’s your whole body.”"
Cole was shut down after Week 3 of this year’s regular season after an ineffective start to the season with just 3 tackles. However, we now know that he was playing though considerable pain in the process.
Eventually, Cole decided that he couldn’t effectively play through the pain anymore and had the potential career-ending back surgery to repair a bulging disc.
The 34 year old was placed on what many expected to be season-ending injured reserve in his particular case.
Instead, Cole intensely rehabbed, and he was activated nearly two weeks ago off of the team’s injured reserve as the team’s designated player to return. Cole not only made a Colts comeback, but he also started in his first game back in the absence of Robert Mathis.
While the veteran was on a limited snap count (24 snaps), Cole actually showed some signs of life and looks like he could be a valuable rotational outside linebacker for the team going forward:
The 12-year veteran isn’t what he once was with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he can still be utilized as a situational pass rusher and even an “edge-setter” to help stop the run as part of the team’s rotation at outside linebacker.
Considering that many thought Cole had played his last snap with the Colts (if not the NFL)–maybe even him at one point, it’s pretty remarkable that the veteran outside linebacker was not only able to return, but also make an immediate impact in Monday night’s victory.