Cole confident Eagles can keep Rodgers in check

Trent Cole (left) led Eagles with 10 sacks, just missed this one on David Garrard.
Trent Cole (left) led Eagles with 10 sacks, just missed this one on David Garrard.
Posted: January 08, 2011

NEVER ARGUE with a man who kills his own snacks.

Trent Cole's locker is decorated with hunting memorabilia. Yesterday, he had cut out a newspaper photo of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and had drawn cross hairs on it in black ink before taping it to his top shelf. Cole, who runs a hunting video production company, keeps his own homemade deer jerky in a small bag. (He offered some to a reporter yesterday. It was quite tasty. Should have requested the low-sodium version, though.)

So when Cole heatedly denied having gone through a "dead period" - Cole notched just one sack in his final four games, nine in the previous 11 - reporters did not dispute his logic.

"I just do what I was told to do," the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end said. (He is a first alternate this year.) "You just take that [for what] it is."

Translation: When you were yelling at your TV, "Why are they dropping Cole into coverage??!!!" Trent apparently was with you in spirit.

One of the biggest keys for the Eagles in their wild card-round playoff matchup tomorrow against the Packers is getting pressure from their front four, without a lot of blitzing, because Rodgers is the best in the NFL at beating the blitz. Cole's message yesterday was that whatever happened down the stretch, he is up to the task.

"I feel great right now," said Cole, who was rested against Dallas Sunday. "It starts up front, and as a d-line, we take full responsibility starting the thing off."

Cole said his mission tomorrow is simple.

"You've got a quarterback who likes to get the ball out, you've got to change your pass rushing. You've got to go straight to him. No more juking or all that crap . . . a straight line, that's the quickest way," he said.

Rodgers is particularly effective throwing on the run. Cole seemed to say the Eagles must tackle Rodgers, not chase him.

"What we've got to do, we've got to get on him as quick as possible . . . He's a great quarterback," Cole said. "We've got to get on him early [in the game] and get on him fast [off the snap].

"Their line plays well together, but they've got one Pro Bowler, [left tackle Chad) Clifton. We'll see, come gametime."

The Vick-o-meter

Quarterback Michael Vick announced he was "finally back to 100 percent" with the bruised quadriceps he suffered against the Vikings. "Ready to go out and play a good football game," he said.

Vikc was reminded that his last previous playoff start also came at the Linc, when the Eagles defeated Vick's Falcons, 27-10, in the NFC Championship Game almost 6 years ago.

"Yeah, that's ironic," he said. "It seems like so long ago . . . This is something I dreamed of the last 3 years, and finally I have the opportunity."

Guarded optimism

Looks as if left guard Todd Herremans is playing tomorrow, though he officially is listed as "questionable."

"I feel good," Herremans said after what the Eagles characterized as a "limited" practice. "I'll be there."

Herremans tweaked a calf muscle in Wednesday morning's walkthrough. He tweeted Thursday night about trying accupuncture. "It worked good for me," he said yesterday.

The tougher call is on the other side, where Max Jean-Gilles sprained an ankle Sunday against the Cowboys. Jean-Gilles watched practice yesterday. He wasn't limping, but he also didn't practice all week. Jean-Gilles also is "questionable." Nick Cole seems ready to step in.

"We'll just see how he does the next couple of days," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

Reid said not having practiced wouldn't necessarily mean Jean-Gilles couldn't play.

"I'm not too worried about him knowing the offense. He's been playing quite a bit," the coach said.

Reid was asked about playing tackle King Dunlap at right guard, should Jean-Gilles not be able to play. Reid allowed this as a possibility, though it seems an unlikely one, given that Dunlap has filled in exclusively at tackle this season, and is not exactly guard-shaped at 6-9, 330.

Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley's practice appearance yesterday was a surprise. Bradley also was limited and questionable. He had not practiced since dislocating his elbow Dec. 12.

"I still think it's a stretch for him to play, but it was good to get him back out there and get some work," Reid said. "This guy is very optimistic. He's a beast . . . We're coming off the field [at Dallas Dec. 12] and he had a dislocated elbow and he's telling me he's going to be ready to go in like 5 minutes. That's the way he is. It's different from what the doctors and trainers say."

Reid said that yesterday the Eagles wanted to see "how he'd do taking people on and using that arm."

Asante Samuel and Nick Cole were listed as partial practice participants. Both have had knee issues; Reid said he limited them because the team was practicing indoors on a harder surface.

Birdseed

Safety Nate Allen, rehabbing a patellar tendon tear, said he should be running in 3 months and OK in 6, in time for training camp . . . Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was asked how this week's optimism is different from the optimism of a year ago, when the Eagles insisted they would return to Dallas and win after getting shut out there in the regular-season finale. "You see guys flying around out there [in practice], guys being vocal, and no repeats [plays that have to be run over because someone screwed up]," Maclin said. "That kind of lets you know how the week's going and how ready the team is for the upcoming game . . . You can feel the energy in the locker room, you can feel the energy on the field. Nobody wants to go home in the first round like we did last year. I think you'll see a lot of guys out there playing hard on Sunday" . . . Andy Reid is 4-0 against NFC North teams in the postseason. However, the Eagles went 1-3 against the division this season, losing to the Packers, Bears and Vikings, edging the Lions.

For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.

Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/LesBowen.

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