"I'm not going to shoot for anything less than being a starter," Cole said. "Whether it's this week, whether it's Week 10, whether it's Week 16, it doesn't matter to me. I want to play, and not only do I want to play, but I want to be a starter at a specific position. I won't sell myself short of that."
Cole, 25, has the right attitude, which is exactly what he changed, as well as his physique, during the off-season. Cole lost some weight, got a little stronger and quicker, and maneuvered his way up the team's depth chart at defensive tackle during the off-season minicamps and in training camp. He is currently the backup to Grady Jackson at nose tackle and has had a significant role in the team's seventh-ranked run defense.
Cole finished with a career-high five tackles in Green Bay's season opener against Detroit. He had one tackle against Cleveland last Sunday.
Though Cole is not in line to surpass Jackson as this time, the situation could change after this season. Jackson becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season and has made it clear during training camp that he plans to test the free agent market. That probably would be fine with Cole, who is focused on breaking into the starting lineup.
Cole, according to defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn, was the most improved defensive lineman during the off-season and training camp. Cole said he dropped about 10 to 12 pounds from the end of the June minicamp to the start of training camp, hit the weights to get stronger. He proceeded to climb the depth chart throughout the off-season. Cole practiced with the first-team defense often in training camp when Jackson was out with a sore knee. With less weight and more muscle on his 325-pound frame, and a different attitude, Cole says has been in position to make more plays.
"My mentality was different," said Cole. "I came into training camp this season planning on being a starter, trying to compete to be a starter. I wasn't trying to compete just to be here. If was was competing that way, I might not be here right now. I want to be a starter and that's the way I've competed from the time that I got here."
Cole was signed to Green Bay's practice squad early in the 2004 season after he was released by the Detroit Lions. Cole was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Minnesota Vikings in 2003. He spent separate one-week stints on the Vikings' 53-man roster before getting waived in October of that season.
After spending 10 weeks on Green Bay's practice squad in 2004, Cole was promoted to the team's active roster near the end of the season. He played in his first NFL game on Dec. 19 against Jacksonville.
Cole spent the bulk of this off-season in Green Bay, participating in the team's off-season workout program. He took part in the team's mini-camps and "opportunity sessions" and impressed Jim Bates' new defensive staff.
"I don't know if he is weight-room stronger, but he is playing with more strength, and his technique is really coming around as far as staying square, and holding the point inside," said Nunn. "And he's got some football savvy. He's learned to play the NFL pace and adjust to the size of these guys. He has gradually gotten better."
Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at