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In The Clutch, Eagles Can Count On G Cole

Opportunities don't come very often for rookie free agents who are buried on the depth chart behind talented veterans with Pro Bowl talent. But Nick Cole has played in every game since the Eagles signed him following the 2006 NFL Draft out of New Mexico. Last year, Cole finally got his chance to start after Shawn Andrews and Max Jean-Gilles were done for the season with injuries.

Cole started the last eight games of the 2008 season - including playoffs - and helped the Eagles solidify the best pass play-to-sack ratio in franchise history, one sack every 27.3 pass plays. A restricted free agent in the off-season, Cole was tendered a deal that would have netted the Eagles a second-round pick if another team signed him.

Expected to be a primary backup at the center and both guard spots, it appeared as if Cole would once again have to wait for another opportunity to start. He didn't have to wait long. He'll start this Sunday for the injured Todd Herremans at left guard against the Panthers in the season opener.

"It's exciting. I just have to go out there and do what I do, but it's a great opportunity for me," Cole said.

There is no question that the experience from last season will help against the Panthers.

"It helped to get used to game speed, just knowing that if I keep working hard I'll get my opportunity," Cole said.

Now the question is whether all of the change in the off-season along the offensive line will cause issues early in the game. The Eagles will have two different tackles than the ones who started in the NFC title game in Jason Peters and Winston Justice. Cole is at left guard and another new Eagle, Stacy Andrews, is at right guard. Cole is confident that the offensive line generated the needed chemistry in practice.

"We just have to click. We just have to be on the same page and if we are, it'll be all good," Cole said.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 5:02 p.m., September 12

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