Nick Cole signed with the Eagles as a rookie free agent in 2006 and has since seen action in every game. A viable option at guard and center, Cole performed well in some late-season opportunities in 2008, filling in as the starting right guard for the final eight games, including the postseason.
Head coach Andy Reid still sees Cole as a starting-caliber offensive lineman.
"Nick Cole is a quality starting offensive lineman here, which buys time for Stacy (Andrews) to get himself right, so we don't have to sit here and force Stacy into a bad situation, not that we would do that anyway," Reid said. "I think everybody has full confidence that Nick can do the job. Then, I think that's also good for Stacy on his end where he can just ease back in."
Andrews acknowledged at the outset of camp that his knee is not 100 percent, so Cole certainly may get reps with the first-team offense.
Let the competition begin.
"I think it's a great situation to have," Reid said. "There are not a lot of teams that have as many starting quality offensive linemen as we do, or as we think we do, and that helped us last year as we went through the season."
Max Jean-Gilles stepped into the right guard spot when Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews went down with injury in the second game of the season. However, Jean-Gilles suffered a broken fibula in the win over Arizona on Nov. 27 and was placed on the Injured Reserve list.
Cole stepped in for Jean-Gilles and the offensive line didn't miss a beat as the Eagles went on to earn the sixth and final spot in the playoffs.
Of course, the team addressed the offensive line at the start of free agency and signed Stacy Andrews, who had knee surgery in January.
"We think Stacy is going to be able to work in there and do that," Reid said. "(But) I wouldn't count Nick out of it."
-- Posted by Bob Kent, 2:05 p.m., July 28