Nick Cole has been the utilityman for the offensive line all season. He started the season at left guard while Todd Herremans was out with a foot injury. He rotated in with Stacy Andrews at right guard for a few games. But beginning with the win in Chicago, Cole had been able to settle in as the starter at the right guard position.
Any level of comfort that Cole had established evaporated when center Jamaal Jackson suffered a knee injury with 5:36 remaining in the first quarter of Sunday's 30-27 win over the Denver Broncos. Cole moved over to center and Max Jean-Gilles took over at the right guard spot for the remainder of the game. Head coach Andy Reid said that Jackson will undergo an MRI on Monday morning to determine the severity of the knee injury.
"It was pretty much the same thing as far as technique-wise," Cole said of the move. "Everything else is pretty much the same except for snapping the ball and making the calls. You're pretty much the rock of the line."
Jackson had been the rock of the line all season. Jackson and right tackle Winston Justice were the only players to start at the same position along the line for every game this season. Now, the rest of the line had to deal with a new voice barking out the calls.
"You have to step up and everyone has to get used to another person stepping up," Cole said. "When one person goes down, we're all close on and off the field, pretty much we're still good."
In some ways, the transition was seamless. The Eagles scored all 30 of their points after Cole went in at center. However, there were some issues. There were three false start penalties along the offensive line and two fumbled snaps. Those miscues could very well, however, have happened with Jackson at center.
"We had to get into a rhythm," Cole said. "We had to get into a little bit of a zone."
The Eagles saw a 27-10 lead in the third quarter disappear. The Eagles buckled down on their final drive of the game and drove 32 yards on six plays to set up David Akers' game-winning 28-yard field goal to pull out a sixth-straight victory.
"You just can't give up. Things happen fast in the NFL. The game changes fast. You have to continue to push," Cole said. "Great players make great plays. That's what happens."
It remains to be seen whether Cole's stint at center will be a one-time affair. In the locker room after the win, Cole wanted to let Jackson know that he and the rest of their teammates along the offensive line are counting on Jackson's return.
"You have to continue to show him love and make sure he keeps his head up and let him know we're expecting him back," Cole said.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 9:30 p.m., December 27