NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles may look to add linebacker depth

April, 14, 2014
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There are so many different ways the Philadelphia Eagles can go when the NFL draft takes place next month.

The Eagles have needs at wide receiver, defensive line and special teams among others.

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They also could look to add some depth at linebacker.

DeMeco Ryans played more than 1,000 snaps last season -- 1,156, to be exact, according to Football Outsiders -- and he's going to be 30 in July. Mychal Kendricks developed into a solid player last season, but adding another piece at linebacker would help.

Montana linebacker Jordie Tripp recently visited the Eagles.

Another interesting name is UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. The 6-foot-5 Barr is a converted running back and he blossomed the last two seasons as he compiled 23.5 sacks for the Bruins.

A pass-rusher like Barr, who could play linebacker, would be a huge upgrade for the Eagles. He would probably need some time to improve as a coverage linebacker, but under coach Chip Kelly, he could definitely thrive immediately.

Barr is not lacking confidence as the draft inches closer.

"I think I am the complete package," Barr told the L.A. Times. "I can help a team right away win football games, playoff games and championships. It's something that I always dreamed about. The teams that do pass on me will regret it."

But Barr also realizes he has work to do.

"I don't think I'm a finished product by any means," Barr told FoxSports.com. "There are a lot of areas that I need to work on and improve on. But I think I've been able to learn over the past two years and to do what I've done says a lot. It just shows that I have a lot of room for improvement and growth and if I continue to work at it the sky is the limit."

Eagles reportedly made offer for Jordan

April, 11, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles recently made an offer for Miami Dolphins pass-rusher Dion Jordan, according to a report in the Delaware County Daily Times.

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Jordan
Jordan played sparingly for the Dolphins last season but was a standout for Eagles coach Chip Kelly when they were at the University of Oregon.

The Delaware County Daily Times also reported that the Eagles included defensive end Brandon Graham, a former first-round pick, along with a second-round draft choice.

Jordan was taken No. 3 overall by the Dolphins a year ago, but his playing time was scarce due to injuries, and he finished with just 26 tackles and two sacks.

But Dolphins coach Joe Philbin remained optimistic about his young pass-rusher, who averaged about 20 snaps per game.

“We feel like with a full offseason, with more time devoted to his fundamentals, he will have a better grasp of the position that he’s playing,” Philbin told ESPN.com. “We do want to do a better job with the numbers and rotating in.”

The Dolphins traded up to select Jordan, so it’s likely they would be looking for an enhanced trade from the Eagles.

If the Eagles can somehow find a way to acquire Jordan, it would be a major upgrade at defensive end. With Trent Cole on one side and Jordan on the other, suddenly the Eagles would be a much more dangerous group in terms of rushing the quarterback.

Marqise Lee has attention of Eagles

April, 11, 2014
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Todd McShay’s latest mock draft on ESPN.com has the Philadelphia Eagles drafting USC wide receiver Marqise Lee with the No. 22 overall pick.

It sure looks like a distinct possibility.

Lee visited the Eagles this week for a third time at different venues, according to a report on FoxSports.com.

Lee registered 248 receptions for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns in a stellar three-year career at USC.

After releasing DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have met with a litany of wide receivers in advance of the NFL draft.

Lee put up huge numbers with the Trojans despite a coaching change and a shuffle at quarterback. Through it all, Lee continued to produce even if his numbers dipped as a junior.

Lee recently performed at USC’s pro day in front of a number of NFL coaches.

“The main thing I really tried to focus on was my position drills,” Lee told the L.A. Times. “Getting in and out of breaks, catching the ball no matter where it’s at — just showing them that I still got that in me.”

If the Eagles pick Lee, he would likely be third on the depth chart at wide receiver behind Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly coached against Lee while at the University of Oregon. It might help explain why Kelly has met with Lee three times as the draft inches closer.

“Lee may be the best receiver I've had the opportunity to coach against,” Kelly recently told reporters. “He's impressive on film, but even more impressive [in person].”

Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Eagles 

April, 10, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles have the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft after finishing 10-6 last season. A wide receiver, linebacker or defensive tackle would make sense for them.

Todd McShay’s fourth 2014 NFL mock draft is out on ESPN Insider today and his choice is a headline grabber for the Eagles, who own the No. 22 pick.


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McCoy, Sproles will give Eagles options

April, 9, 2014
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LeSean McCoy turned into one of the most durable and dependable running backs in the league last season.

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McCoy should be even fresher in 2014 with the addition of Darren Sproles.

Sproles was acquired by the Philadelphia Eagles last month and then was signed to a two-year contract extension through 2016. Sproles, 30, will give the Eagles multiple options out of the backfield and on special teams. Sproles' speed may not be what it was three or four years ago, but it's still good enough for him to be an impact player.

With McCoy and Sproles in the backfield at the same time, defenses won't be able to focus on one player. It will give coach Chip Kelly plenty of options, especially on third down.

The change of scenery will give Sproles a fresh start.

Sproles
“I just wanted a choice,” Sproles told reporters. "I didn't want them to put me on a team or wherever that really didn't fit me. That's why I wanted to be released, so I could really choose. ...When I heard it (was Philadelphia), I was just happy. They could have traded me somewhere where I didn't want to be. So I was real happy about it."

Sproles led the league with 2,696 all-purpose yards in 2011, but his rushing, receiving and return total numbers have decreased in the following two seasons. Yet he’s coming to a team which doesn't need him to put up those kinds of numbers. The Eagles just need him to be a consistent element in their offense and special teams.

Amazingly, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had one more yard rushing (221) than Sproles (220) last season. But Sproles' contribution won’t simply be on the ground. He can catch passes and turn them into huge gains. He can stretch the field. He can return kickoffs and punts. And he can block.

If Sproles can perform at a fairly high level, it will be a major benefit to McCoy.

Eagles: Expectations are high for Maclin

April, 7, 2014
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So much talk has centered around the loss of DeSean Jackson that it has been easy to forget about the return of another wide receiver.

The Philadelphia Eagles recently signed Jeremy Maclin to a one-year deal. Maclin missed all of last season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Maclin
From 2009-12, Maclin caught 258 passes for 3,453 yards and 26 touchdowns. Maclin, 25, has never had less than 56 catches in a single season.

Maclin is dependable and consistently grabs passes across the middle. The biggest hurdle for Maclin will be overcoming the ACL injury and having the confidence to take those hard hits on a daily basis.

Maclin, the Eagles' first-round pick from Missouri in 2009, suffered the injury at the beginning of training camp last year.

“I’m excited to see Jeremy play in our offense,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly told CSNPhilly.com. “You saw the potential of that in the spring and summer, but obviously he didn't get an opportunity last year. However, what was great to see was how he was literally here every single day since being injured. You can see he has a passion for the game of football. When he was on the field last spring and summer, you saw his intelligence, you saw his great route-running ability and you saw how tough of a one-on-one matchup he could be.”

Maclin recently said he wasn't sure if he would be cleared in time for organized team activities that begin April 21. But he expects to be ready for the start of training camp in late July.

If Maclin can play like he did from 2009-12, the Eagles will have another threat on offense. Maybe not the deep threat like Jackson, but a stellar wide receiver nonetheless who has put up big numbers in the past.

“I would say our expectations are he's going to be a really good player for us this year," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told CSNPhilly.com. "He has the traits we look for at the receiver position. It's no secret that we thought he was going to have a big year, and he had an unfortunate injury. That's our expectation. He adds another dynamic threat to our offense.”

It will be the first chance for Maclin in playing under Kelly. Judging by how the Eagles' offense fared last season, it's safe to assume Maclin will have a chance to shine.

WR prospect Latimer has Eagles' attention

April, 6, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled to meet with Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer sometime before the NFL draft in May, according to the Indianapolis Star.

With DeSean Jackson signing with the Washington Redskins following his release from the Eagles, this is an interesting player to watch as the draft inches closer.

In three seasons with the Hoosiers, Latimer caught 135 passes for 2,042 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Latimer had an impressive junior season with 72 catches for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns.

Latimer reportedly ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at Indiana’s pro day in the aftermath of foot surgery, so his draft stock likely got a bit higher.

The Eagles pick at No. 22 in the first round and it looks as if they’re keeping a close watch on Latimer, who recorded five games with at least 100 yards receiving, including three touchdowns against Illinois.

“I think I put up some good numbers that caught scouts' eyes,” Latimer told the Indianapolis Star after his pro day. “That’s all I needed to do.”

The Indianapolis Star noted that Latimer also was scheduled to visit with the Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and New York Giants before the draft.

“I’ve been back to jogging through routes, and I’m starting to cut now,” Latimer told the Indianapolis Star. “Hopefully those [visits] go well, and just go from there.”

Latimer was a second-team All-Big Ten selection this past year and he could wind up being a nice fit in Eagles coach Chip Kelly's high-octane offense.

Eagles' offseason schedule set

April, 5, 2014
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So many positive things happened in coach Chip Kelly’s first season with the Philadelphia Eagles.

They won 10 regular-season games, six more than the previous season, captured the NFC East title and hosted a divisional playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field.

For all the good vibes, the Eagles still must be peeved in the aftermath of a heartbreaking 26-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Saints had never won a road playoff game until beating the Eagles.

“We lost to a team that wasn’t necessarily better than us,” Eagles cornerback Cary Williams told CSNPhilly.com. “They weren’t better than us. Period. But [they were] better tonight. They got the job done.”

The best solution for a team trying to overcome the sting of a tough loss is simple: get back on the field as soon as possible.

“There’s a bunch of things that went wrong that is really, like, messing with me right now,” All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters told CSNPhilly.com. “But we just got to get over it.”

The time to move on officially begins this month.

On Thursday, the NFL announced the starting dates for each team’s offseason workouts, minicamps and strength and conditioning programs.

The first day of strength and conditioning for the Eagles will be April 21 -- 16 days from now.

The Eagles’ OTA workouts are scheduled for May 27-29, June 2-3, June 5 and June 9-12.

Philadelphia will host a mandatory minicamp from June 17-19.

Training camp will begin in July.

NFL hands Jake Knott four-game ban

April, 4, 2014
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Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jake Knott has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2014 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

Knott
Knott, who had six tackles in 12 games last season, is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. Knott earned a roster spot as an undrafted rookie from Iowa State.

“We’re very disappointed to learn of his suspension,” the Eagles said in a statement. “We have spoken to Jake and he is fully aware of the mistake he made and owned it. The key for him, however, is to learn from that mistake and move forward with his preparation for the 2014 season.”

Knott also issued a statement.

“Several weeks ago, I was shocked to learn that I tested positive for a stimulant that is banned by the NFL,” Knott said. “I have never knowingly ingested a banned substance, but like most players, I take nutritional supplements. Unfortunately, I now know that supplements are not regulated and thus may contain things that are not listed on the label. The NFL policy is very strict, so I have chosen to take immediate responsibility.

“I look forward to participating in team workouts, training camp and the pre-season with my team. During the suspension, I will work extremely hard to stay in top football shape and be ready to contribute immediately upon my return. I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, my family and fans for the impact of my mistake on the team.”

Knott played mostly on special teams as a rookie and made his debut in the season opener at Washington on Sept. 9, where he recovered an onside kick with 1:14 remaining to help seal a 33-27 Eagles victory.

CB Nolan Carroll could impact secondary

April, 4, 2014
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The secondary became one of the most-improved units for the Philadelphia Eagles last season.

Carroll
Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin jelled quite nicely by the end of the season.

With the addition of free agent cornerback Nolan Carroll, the group should be even better in 2014. Carroll’s signing was a little bit under the radar, but these are the types of quiet moves that can really benefit a team.

Carroll, 27, can play on special teams and will certainly compete for a starting job.

“I’m coming in and doing whatever role is needed from me,” Carroll told reporters soon after signing a two-year contract. “If I come in and compete and I don’t get the job, then I just have to find my role on the team to help us win. I’m not going to be frustrated or disappointed. As long as I go out and do the things that I need to do to help the team out, that’s all I’m worried about. It’s not about individual success right now, it’s about the team’s success, and that’s what I’m here to do, help the team win.”

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Carroll is a four-year veteran who has started 26 games, including a career-high 12 with the Miami Dolphins last season. He had three interceptions and two sacks last season. More than that, he’ll give the Eagles another option on special teams.

The Eagles allowed more passing yards than any team in the league, so the addition of a player like Carroll is a plus.

Several teams were reportedly interested in adding Carroll before the Eagles stepped in and completed the deal.

“I like the atmosphere that is here with (coach) Chip Kelly and what his philosophy is for this team, and I’m excited,” Carroll told reporters. “They’ve got me excited. Just being around here in this building, listening to everybody around here, meeting different people, I’m happy to be a part of this organization.”

In four career seasons with the Dolphins, Carroll compiled 135 total tackles, 22 deflected passes, five interceptions and one forced fumble.

If Carroll does provide a lift, this signing could wind up being huge.

For Malcolm Jenkins, versatility is key

April, 4, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles could have gone a variety of ways at safety when free agency opened.

Jenkins
There was Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward, and both players certainly would have helped immensely. The Eagles decided to sign Malcolm Jenkins to a three-year deal worth a reported $16.25 million.

The addition of Jenkins clearly strengthened the Eagles’ secondary. Jenkins was a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2009, No. 14 overall. His new role will be helping to anchor a secondary, which needed an upgrade.

Safe to say that Jenkins is ready.

“I'm a football junkie,” Jenkins told reporters after being signed by the Eagles. “I can be the quarterback of the defense. When I have the freedom to move around and not be stagnant, that's when I have my best years. I'm not your typical safety. I'm more of that hybrid that the league is moving to with the bigger tight ends, the faster tight ends. You need guys who can be versatile.”

Jenkins’ versatility will be helpful since he has the ability to play deep, in the slot or even cover the tight end. This will allow defensive coordinator Bill Davis to disguise some coverages and blitz schemes.

More than just X’s and O’s, Jenkins was fascinated by coach Chip Kelly and how he turned around the Eagles in just one season. Jenkins wanted to be a part of the transformation.

“I think even before we played them, I think to everybody it was apparent by Week 4 or 5 that there was something different about this team with Chip Kelly, and it caught the attention of a lot of people,” Jenkins told reporters. “So that was my first impression was that he knows how to win, he knows what he’s going to win with and they’re trying to get players that will fit his scheme. Not necessarily the best players, but players that will buy in to what he’s selling. I’ve been a part of winning teams before and that’s where it starts. It starts with good leadership from the top down.”

Jenkins had 68 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions for the Saints last season.

Byrd and Ward may have been better options, but Jenkins is certainly a major improvement.

Nate Allen's 'heart was in Philly'

April, 4, 2014
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Nate Allen became a free agent on March 11 and he had to wonder where his NFL career would continue.

Allen hoped it would be with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he couldn't be sure.

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Allen
All it took was six days for Allen to make his decision and the safety ultimately signed a one-year deal to remain with the Eagles.

For the first time in his career, Allen started all 16 games. In 2014, he'll have a chance to start opposite Malcolm Jenkins, one of the team's marquee free-agent signings in the offseason.

“I was just playing the waiting game,” Allen told CSNPhilly.com. “I wasn't trying to get all worked up and stressed out about free agency. I just kind of sat back and let everything fall into place. At the end of day, I knew my heart was in Philly and this was the place I wanted to be.”

Allen, who was third on the team with a career-high 82 tackles, gives the Eagles some much-needed depth at safety. He also registered one interception and one sack.

Despite compiling six interceptions and 310 tackles in 59 career regular-season games, there was some uncertainty about if Allen would return to the Eagles. But his total number of tackles have increased in all four seasons.

With Jenkins, Earl Wolff and Chris Maragos, Allen will have a legitimate chance to compete for a starting job during training camp.

Allen was a second-round draft choice in 2010 and became the first player in franchise history to record three interceptions and two sacks in his first season. He suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee and had surgery late in the season.

Allen has responded ever since and it ultimately wound up with him signing for a fifth season in Philadelphia. In Allen's second season, he registered 59 tackles and two interceptions, proving that he was fully recovered from his knee surgery.

The improvement has been evident through all four seasons and time will tell what Allen's role will be in 2014.
The Philadelphia Eagles were active in keeping their own players, such as Jeremy Maclin, Jason Kelce and Riley Cooper. They were active in signing free agents, such as safety Malcolm Jenkins, and trading for running back Darren Sproles.

But the biggest move was cutting wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who stayed in the NFC East by signing with the Washington Redskins.

In ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's Grade A draft, he plays general manager for the Eagles, not Howie Roseman or Chip Kelly. What would Mel do as GM?

Find out here. Insider


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The NFL's fame and glory machine didn't spit out DeSean Jackson this time around. It just showed him the blueprint.

Jackson is too young and too good for his ugly release last week by the Philadelphia Eagles to end his career. Regardless of anything that came out publicly (or whatever the Eagles or other teams may know privately) about the off-field detriments that undermine Jackson's wondrous on-field benefits, someone was going to pick him up.

[+] EnlargeDeSean Jackson
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsAt 27, DeSean Jackson must realize that his relatively young NFL career is at risk.
The Washington Redskins didn't waste time and they didn't scrimp.

But what Jackson got to see was the manner in which the machine will spit him out if he lets it. A team can cut you, it turns out, without explaining why, and can let everyone assume it's because of the way you act and the friends you hang out with away from the field. A team can do this and have the wide NFL world nod in agreement at phrases like "doesn't fit" and "what's best for the football team."

So while the week's debate has been about whether this turn of events is good/bad for the Eagles, good/bad for the Redskins, good/bad for the Jets or any other team that may have been involved or interested, why not take a moment to debate whether this is good for the player? Is getting cut by the Eagles and signed by the Redskins going to benefit DeSean Jackson? Or is the machine determined to spit him out long before his desire and skill level dictate that it must?

I've been talking to people about Jackson for three years now, and here are a few things I believe I know:

Jackson is not an evil person. The Aaron Hernandez comparisons you may have heard or read are shameful and irresponsible. One guy is in jail on first-degree murder charges. The guy we're talking about here appears to have some childhood friends with shady connections. That's a pretty wide gulf, and it deserves to be treated as such in our analysis. We could sit here and say that someone of Jackson's fame and wealth is risking a lot if he refuses to cut ties with people who have nothing to lose. And if he's allegedly flashing gang signs after touchdowns, on his Instagram page or in his videos, as the police officers in the NJ.com story that hit last week minutes before his release say he has, then he's doing himself a disservice.

Jackson is a 27-year-old who's been famous for almost half his life, but he knows the right thing to do with his platform. He goes into schools to speak actively against bullying, talking to bullies, victims, teachers ... anyone who can help with the problem. He doesn't just throw money at his causes; he works actively to help.

But he also conveys an untethered element. He was incredibly close with his father, who died quickly and cruelly from pancreatic cancer in 2009, and people who have spent time around Jackson will tell you the past five years have been rough. I once asked a player in the Eagles' locker room about Jackson and was told, "Not a bad guy, but sometimes you shake your head." I have heard stories about him pouting in the locker room. He himself admitted to dealing poorly with his last contract year; he let it affect him on the field, and he was suspended for missed meetings. Eagles personnel have for years expressed concern about the extent to which Jackson liked to focus on making rap music, sometimes to the detriment of his football business, in their opinion.

And the NJ.com story got into his off-field associations in pretty strong detail. While the national takeaway was the uber-simplistic bit about alleged gang ties, the reasonable takeaway is that Jackson doesn't always make the best-looking choices. What I know about gang culture couldn't fill a shot glass, but I don't think DeSean Jackson is in a street gang.

The problem Jackson has now is that, right or wrong, some people who've been following this story for the past week do think he's in a gang. So the next time the NFL's fame and glory machine finds him caught in the works and tries to spit him out, there's going to be a chorus that thinks it's the right thing to do.

I wonder if he's in the right environment to succeed. The Redskins have a new, inexperienced head coach in Jay Gruden. They have a 28-year-old first-time offensive coordinator in Sean McVay. They have an attention-magnet quarterback in Robert Griffin III who's coming off a year that handed him a slate of his own problems to work out. The Redskins have lost locker-room leadership in recent years, most significantly with the retirement of London Fletcher. One of the top leaders on their offense is wide receiver Santana Moss, whose roster spot one would think is in jeopardy as a result of the Jackson signing. If Jackson is looking for another tether now that the Eagles' tether has been severed, it may be tough for him to find it in Washington.

Which makes it even more important for Jackson to realize what's happened here and work to make sure he's prepared the next time it happens. It's important for a lesson to be learned. Jackson doesn't have to change who he is or what he does away from the field if he doesn't want to. But his is now an at-risk career at the age of 27, and he needs to understand that. The next time the machine tries to spit him out, it's going to have a lot more impetus than it did this time around. Jackson's mission going forward is to fight that off -- to realize he's under a new and frightening kind of scrutiny, and to work to make sure he doesn't give anyone a reason to think he's something he's not.

Trent Cole benefited from new scheme

April, 3, 2014
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Trent Cole thrived under the new regime with the Philadelphia Eagles last season.

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And he’s hoping for an even bigger season in 2014.

Following a rather disappointing season two years ago, Cole became one of the most improved players on the team in coach Chip Kelly’s inaugural season.

Cole, who was selected by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL draft -- pick No. 146 overall -- had an impressive season on the club’s revamped defense. He led the Eagles in sacks (8.0), forced fumbles (three) and tackles for loss (10), while finishing second in quarterback pressures with 15.

Cole currently ranks second on the Eagles’ all-time career sacks list with 79.

Arguably the Eagles’ top pass-rusher, Cole had to adjust from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense under Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis. It took some time to adjust in his ninth season, but Cole wound up being one of the team’s most dangerous defensive players.

After going the first eight games without a sack, Cole registered all eight sacks in the final eight games. In the process, he anchored a defense that improved steadily throughout the season.

Cole’s best performance came against the Chicago Bears in a stirring 54-11 victory. In that game, Cole sacked Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler three times and generally created havoc from the first snap to the final one.

“From Day 1, Trent has just played with great effort,” Kelly told the Philadelphia Daily News. "Sometimes the numbers didn't show because he didn't have a sack total, or whatever. But the pressure he got from Game 1 to now, through Game 15, sometimes it starts to come. He was so close in a lot of games, but I think what you see out of Trent is that he just gives you that effort, and he just plays so hard.”

Cole, entering his 10th season with the Eagles, will be looking for his fifth season with double-digit sack totals.

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