A bit of news surrounding the Indianapolis Colts is regarding the status of outside linebacker Trent Cole, who is currently on injured reserve but was back at practice today. Head coach Chuck Pagano confirmed today that Cole is exempt from the roster right now until the Colts activate him, so “it was good to have him back out there.”
Cole had indicated earlier this year that there was “a chance” he would return, and it seems that he very well might be back soon. The NFL lets teams choose one player on IR as eligible for return, and that player can return to practice after six weeks and return to games after eight weeks. It’s already been eight weeks since Cole was placed on IR, however, so he would be eligible to return at any time. The Colts have a three-week window to activate him to the active roster, but during that time he’s eligible to practice. After that window is up, the team must make a decision. Based on the way Pagano was speaking today it sounds like their plan is definitely to activate Cole (since Pagano said he’s exempt until they activate him), and the question then becomes how soon until they do that. They could do it at any time, but they also could keep him exempt for the time being as he gets back into the swing of things.
The Colts have struggled to get a pass rush going all year, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Trent Cole is the guy who appears to be designated for return from IR. But at the same time, it’s not like Cole has shown anything with the Colts to suggest that he’ll be able to solve those woes, as he contributed to them last year and for the first few weeks of this year. In two games this year Cole recorded three tackles, and last year he played in 14 games (starting five) and recorded 32 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and three passes defensed. He has been a productive player in his career, however, as he has played in 171 games (150 starts) and has made 844 tackles, 88.5 sacks, 21 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 19 passes defensed, and a pick. If Cole is indeed able to return to the active roster this year, he would be thrown into the mix at outside linebacker among a group that has ben very inconsistent this year and, outside of Erik Walden, hasn’t been able to get to the quarterback with any sort of regularity.