Veterans Cole and Herremans are starting anew
Unlike many of the younger men inside the Eagles locker room, Trent Cole and Todd Herremans do not have to endure that uneasy feeling created by Saturday's looming final cut.
Still, the two veterans closing fast on their 31st birthdays caught a whiff of the new-car smell that permeated the training facility at One NovaCare Way the moment owner Jeffrey Lurie handed the keys to the franchise over to new coach Chip Kelly.
Suddenly, Cole and Herremans were part of an organization that could go from zero to 75 (offensive plays) in the course of a 60-minute game. Suddenly, everything they knew about training camp and life in the NFL changed. And suddenly, it's possible that they are nearing the end of impressive runs with the Eagles.
"Very different" is how Cole described his first camp under Kelly. "Very, very different."
That is especially true for Cole, a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end coming off the least productive season of an otherwise outstanding career. Since he moved from running back to nose tackle during his early days at the University of Cincinnati, Cole has always played defense with a hand in the ground.
And since he moved from nose tackle to defensive end in his final two seasons at Cincinnati, the avid big-game hunter has spent his life relentlessly pursuing quarterbacks.
Now, he's an outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Bill Davis' 3-4 scheme.
"People might think this is crazy, but I think I'm going to be an impact player in coverage," Cole said after practice Tuesday.
Cole will turn 31 on Oct. 5. He had a career-low three sacks last season, so the responsibility of covering wide receivers and tight ends wouldn't seem to be an appetizing addition to his plate. He insists otherwise.
"I love sacks and that's what my thing is, but I just think I'll be an impact guy in coverage," Cole said. "That's what I want to be because I've been asked to do something that is a new challenge and I'm going to try to be as great as I can at it. I'm hungry for it. I'm jamming guys. I'm a big guy out there on the receiver. You have receivers saying, 'Who the heck is this guy?' "
Like Cole, Herremans had spent his entire NFL life doing things Andy Reid's way before this year. And like Cole, he is coming off his least productive season in the league after being limited to just eight games because of a severe right foot injury.
Herremans is also changing positions, moving from right tackle to right guard. When he starts opening night Sept. 9 against Washington, he will have officially played every position along the offensive line except center. He also has played tight end, catching two touchdown passes.
He was asked what his natural position was along the offensive line. "I've forgotten," he said.
Herremans has taken the drastic changes implemented by Kelly in stride.
"You know what? It's different," he said. "But it's not anything different that is frustrating. I understand why it's different because if you keep doing the same things you're going to get the same results."
Before the start of camp, Herremans, who turns 31 Oct. 13, said the move to guard would not be a big deal because he played left guard for parts of six seasons. He has discovered it's a little more difficult than riding a bike.
"It's cool," he said. "There are certain parts I thought I would never lose at guard that I've had to work on even more. I feel like mentally I'm trying to slow my feet down. No matter how many years you play, there are always things you have to work on.
"One thing I remember is that at guard I used to punch guys and I'd never let go of them. Then I went to tackle, where you're punching and shadowing and punching and shadowing again. You do that at guard and you lose real quick, so that's one thing I'm working on. It will come."
For most of their careers, Cole and Herremans were overachieving and underpaid players, but before last season they were rewarded for their fine work. Cole received a six-year deal that included $14.5 million in guaranteed money and Herremans received a five-year deal, with $11 million guaranteed.
Both men earned those big paydays.
Cole was a fifth-round pick in 2005, the 146th player taken. Eleven pass rushers were taken ahead of him. Only Dallas' DeMarcus Ware, a first-round pick, has started more games and recorded more sacks than Cole.
Herremans was a fourth-round pick in 2005, the 126th player taken. Twenty-two offensive linemen were taken ahead of him. Only three have started more games.
Now, they are older players dealing with new coaches and new schemes. They have job security for this season, but they must prove they can be part of what Kelly is trying to build beyond 2013.
"I'm excited to get things going," Herremans said. "I am curious to see us put it all together for four quarters and see how another team reacts to it."
Contact Bob Brookover at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @brookob.