ANDERSON, IN --- Trent Cole has always been a hunter. He first got his license to do so when he was in 3rd grade. The first thing he caught? A rabbit. He's still hunting. 10 years of NFL experience but still searching for that elusive Super Bowl ring. That's the shortest way to explain his 650 mile journey this offseason from Philadelphia to Indianapolis.
"There was a lot of opportunity out there going into free agency," Cole said Sunday. "This is my 11th year in the league. A guy like me...I say after three or four years guys are looking for that Super Bowl. I've been through some contracts, but I've been looking for that Super Bowl."
Cole's been close too. He reached the conference championship in 2008 with the Eagles, before losing to the Cardinals 32-25.
"I got a taste of blood already," said Cole, who went to the playoffs five times in 10 years in Philadelphia. "That hits you. When you get that close...it just takes you to another level when you're training and preparing for next year."
He hasn't taken a practice off yet in training camp. Not even half a practice, as some veterans get. That's rare for players with as many years in the league as Trent Cole. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman said Cole's been "an animal". Sounds about right. When you're hunting, you must first think like your prey.
"It's good to hear things like that. That's what you want to hear," said Cole of Freeman's comment. "You know you're doing something, but I want to be an impact. I told the coaches I know I can be an impact player coming here."
As for his new head coach, Chuck Pagano's noticed Cole too. Cole said he sees a lot of similarities between Chuck Pagano and his first coach in Philadelphia, Andy Reid, one of the most respected coaches in all the NFL.
"He's a warrior. He understands that you have to put this time in because very few, if any, are able to miss a significant amount of time and get ready for the regular season," said Pagano of Cole Sunday. "He's new to this team. He doesn't want to be away from the defense and away from his teammates. He wants to be out there grinding with them."
Cole has 85.5 career sacks. That's 11th on the active NFL list, but he hasn't posted double-digit sacks since 2011. That led to Cole adjusting his offseason preparation before the start of training camp. What's old was new again, just like when he was eight-years-old, having never gone through the proper training and classes to get his first hunter's license until then.
"Yeah, you don't know what you're going to when you go to a new team. You never know what to prepare for," said Cole about getting ready to play the 3-4 outside linebacker version of a pass rusher, as opposed to the 4-3 defensive end he also played during his career. "I was running more. I changed my routine, trying to slim down, trying to cut the fat down. That's what I did...and when it's time to go, you've got to rise to the challenge."
Trent Cole's instincts are there. They've been there since childhood. It's just that he's found a new forest now to hunt down those rabbits.