Game statistics didn’t provide an accurate assessment of how Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Trent Cole played Saturday against the St. Louis Rams.
He was credited with one tackle. Blame the low number on the pass rusher getting held.
“He was really close and he got tackled probably three or four times,” head coach Chuck Pagano said Sunday. “He got grabbed by the face mask. He got tackled to the ground. There were three or four no-calls there that were just egregious.”
And Pagano didn’t hide his discontent about how Rams offensive tackle Greg Robinson got away with grabbing Cole.
“No. 73, if you did it on the street, they may put you away for 15 years,” Pagano said with a laugh.
Cole, 32, has convinced his new team he’s got plenty of life left in the NFL. After a decade, 85.5 sacks and two Pro Bowl selections in Philadelphia, the pass rusher has gushed about joining the Colts from day one. He signed a two-year, $14-million contract in March.
His teammates have taken to him, too.
“When you’ve got No. 58 back there,” inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman said of Cole, “he’s an animal.”
Cole spoke during training camp about how much he’s admired watching Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis as well as former sack man Dwight Freeney over the years. Now Cole gets to team up with Mathis, the team’s all-time sack leader with 111 and a six-time Pro Bowl selection, to form one of the more formidable pass-rush tandems in the league.
“I’m here to be impact when I’m called up to be impact,” Cole said during camp.
As Freeman suggests, that means expect high intensity from a guy whose eyes get wide when he’s engaged. An animal? A real nasty one at that.
Cole smiled when told of Freeman’s “animal” description.
“It’s good to hear things like that,” he said. “That’s what you want to hear. As a player, you know you’re doing something. I want to be an impact. I tell coaches and them, ‘Hey, I know I can be an impact in coming here to play here.’ I know where I want to be. It’s a great team. I’ve kept an eye on this team being with the Philadelphia Eagles. I watched their defense. I watched how they played and I wanted to be a part of it.”
He was so excited for training camp, he showed up in a recreational vehicle.
Cole gives the Colts an experienced player who understands all the facets of the defense.
“The guy is tough,” Pagano said, “he is smart, he loves to play the game, he can set the edge, he can rush the passer, he can play outside and drop in coverage a little bit, he can play inside on third down. We can do a lot with a guy like that.”
While Mathis mends from a right Achilles tendon tear that cost him the 2014 season, and his availability for the Sept. 13 season opener at Buffalo is in doubt, there’s no mistaking Cole will be ready to go with his new team.
“In 10 years, I’ve always watched Robert’s game,” Cole said. “When him and Freeney were here and that combination, how they worked together high-and-lows. Just watching his game and like I said to this day, to this point, I’m still learning from Robert. He’s always helping me out with everything. I’m glad to be here when Robert comes back.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.