The Eagles clearly made a concerted effort to fortify the defensive line, specifically the pass rush, during the draft. They traded up to select defensive end Brandon Graham with the 13th pick in the first round, and then went on to select two more defensive ends among their 13 overall draft picks. The addition of those young legs to the defensive line is perhaps more welcome to one player in particular, Pro Bowl defensive end Trent Cole.
Cole notched 12.5 sacks in 2009, equaling his career high, but he did it while being forced to battle double- and triple-teams. Ideally, the combination of Graham, Darryl Tapp, a rested Juqua Parker, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Ricky Sapp and a healthy Victor Abiamiri will force the offense to respect the pass rush enough to allow Cole to work one-on-one against left tackles.
But in the meantime, before the season starts, Cole is focused on bringing the youngsters along so that they'll eventually become the partners-in-sack he's looking for.
"It's a time where I have to step up and fill that void," Cole said, referring to an increased leadership role. "Being here, this is my sixth year and over the years I've seen how guys have stepped up and now a lot of guys are gone now and we're the older bunch, my years, the older bunch now. So we have to be great role models and teachers and help the other guys and keep going forward to win games."
Holding court in front of cameras and reporters outside the NovaCare Complex, Cole was asked by former Eagles defensive lineman Hugh Douglas if he would help mentor Graham.
"I'm going to help him out as much as I can, just like Hugh did," Cole said. "Hugh helped me out, so I'm going to pass it on and help the other guys out as well ... There's a lot of learning that has to be done. There's a lot to be taught too, so we've got a long road ahead.
"(Graham's) looking good. I like his style of play and I like his attitude about things and we like to have people like that on our team. And especially in my opinion, I love the aggressiveness so I'm pretty excited to have him, a new addition to the team. We're going to welcome him and welcome the rest of the guys coming in here as well too."
Cole also echoed the comments of quarterback Kevin Kolb, who said that there's a certain feeling of excitement within the locker room at the moment as they move into the 2010 season.
"It's a new team, it's a new year," he said. "Whenever you have something new, it's always good to have something new. It seems like it's a new start and it seems like we'll have some great times as well and we're going to win some games."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:30 a.m., April 30