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Cole Looks To Seize Opportunity At Center

Nick Cole has a knack for finding his way into the starting lineup.

In 2008, Cole started the final eight games of the season - including playoffs - after Max Jean-Gilles suffered a season-ending leg injury. The original plans for the 2009 season involved Cole coming off the bench as the sixth man. Cole ended up starting every game at a total of three different positions.

A rookie free agent signing of the Eagles in 2006, Cole has played in all 70 regular season and postseason games over the last four seasons.

This season, it's a little different for Cole. As Jamaal Jackson continues to rehab from his knee injury, Cole is the man taking the snaps as the first-team center.

"I always try to go in being the best that I can be," Cole said. "Now, I've got the opportunity to show what I can do. It's a great opportunity for me to capitalize on."

Cole started at center for the first time in his NFL career in Week 17 of last season against the Dallas Cowboys. With the division title and a first-round bye on the line, the Eagles were shutout on the scoreboard. And a week later, we all know that the Eagles' promising season ended in the house that Jerry Jones built.

"I get put in situations and just handle it. That's pretty much how it is for me," Cole said. "Sometimes you'll come out on top. Sometimes you won't. That's how it is."

Replacing Jackson, who had started 76 straight games at center including playoffs, was certainly no easy task. But with this off-season to prepare and focus on the center position, Cole will be ready if Jackson is unable to start the season.

"As far as technique, it's not that big of an adjustment. I'm just making a lot more calls, having a lot more put on my shoulders than being a guard," Cole said. "It's a lot of hard work and dedication. You have to stay in and learn a lot more than anybody else. You just have to put in the hard work and make sure you know what you are doing."

What has helped the transition is working in the past at center with quarterback Kevin Kolb.

"I'm pretty comfortable with him because I've been with him in a lot of preseason games," Cole said. "I'm pretty much used to him. When he's in, I'm in with him. It's really not that big of an adjustment."

A restricted free agent this past off-season, Cole is playing under a one-year tender. Of course, Cole would like to be in a situation after four years in the league where he could focus on one position. But Cole understands that he doesn't have that luxury.

"You want to work at one position and be the best at that position. I'm not in that situation. Until I'm in that situation, it is what it is," Cole said.

Cole certainly isn't going to allow himself to think that this year will be different in that regard.

"You never know with this game," Cole said. "It's just how the game works."

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 9:00 a.m., June 5

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