Trent Cole arrived on Thursday for his ninth NFL training camp. A two-time Pro Bowler, Cole is coming off the worst season of his NFL career and will be 31 in October. Plus, the Eagles are switching to a scheme that's less conducive for his skill set.
This is not a good combination. Except Cole insists that 2012 will stay with him, and he will not struggle again.
"They'll have to drag me out of this facility, but I'm not going to fail," Cole said. "I'm going to give them no reason to have to get rid of me or anything like that. I'm going to do everything I have to do to make things work."
Cole will remain with the Eagles for a few reasons. The biggest is probably his contract; the Eagles would take on $6.4 million in dead money if he's cut, and that's a big number to swallow. The Eagles also need pass rushing, and Cole has had at least sacks in six consecutive seasons before last year. Plus, he's a valued member of the team and in the locker room.
But it's impossible to ignore 2012. Cole had three sacks, and was not the pass-rushing threat the Eagles had expected.
"I told myself, I'll never forget that season, and I won't forget it after my career," Cole said. "I'll keep that with me. Some people say you're supposed to let it go, it's in the past. But having a season like that, it's going to drive me and motivate me this season."
He changed his body during the offseason, knowing he'll need to play more linebacker in the Eagles' system. He's expecting to weigh in at 263 pounds, which he said is around 11 pounds lighter than last year. He lost body fat, and became stronger and more toned.
This does not promise a rebound season, though. And at his age, there's always concern that the skills have declined. But Cole is saying that won't be the case, and the proof will be in what happens during the next few months.
"Being at my age and being this many year's in the league, you have to change the way you do things," Cole said. "But experience has a big impact in what you do. And that's what's helping me now."
Contact Zach Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.