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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles will likely be without veteran outside linebacker Trent Cole when they face a must-win game against the Redskins on Saturday.
Cole suffered a broken hand in the Eagles' 38-27 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday night. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said it doesn't look good for the veteran to play Saturday.
"There's some things he has to decide," Davis said.
Cole has not decided yet if he is will have surgery on the hand, which would likely end his season. As far as playing this week, the 10-year veteran said he still has time to decide.
"It's all up in the air," he said. "We'll see. We still have time to decide."
Brandon Graham, who will start in place of Cole, will make his first start since the 2012 season when he was a defensive end in a 4-3 alignment.
Last year, under Davis, the Eagles switched to a 3-4 and Graham became the team's backup outside linebacker to Cole and Connor Barwin.
Graham said Tuesday he's ready to play with the same intensity as Cole.
"We've been together for five years now — I can't believe it's been five years already — but I've learned a lot from him in those years and I'm ready," Graham said.
Graham averages between 25 to 30 plays a game in a rotation with both Cole and Barwin. Now, he'll be out there for almost every snap.
Seldom-used first-round pick Marcus Smith becomes the No. 3 linebacker.
"It helps a lot that I've been playing the amount I've been playing," Graham said. "If I wasn't playing at all, that would be tough."
Graham has played in 38 percent of the team's defensive plays this season, compared to 75 percent for Cole and Barwin's 86 percent. He's managed 5 1/2 sacks, 13 quarterback hurries and a team-high four forced fumbles.
"There's no doubt what Trent means to our pass rush," Davis said. "He moves the quarterback off the spot. A lot of the sacks we get are because of Trent. But we have a lot of confidence in B.G."
Cole, who is second to Reggie White on the Eagles' all-time sack list with 85 1/2, has started and played 56 straight games. The last game he missed was at Washington in 2011 when he had a calf injury. Eight of his 85 1/2 sacks have also come against the Redskins.
Moving Graham in for Cole isn't as huge of a drop off as the next step, which is Smith moving up to the No. 3 spot.
In the team's 14 games, Smith has been inactive twice and missed five others despite suiting up. Moving back and forth between inside and outside linebacker, he's played a total of 68 plays all season. His game high 16 came in the Eagles' first game against Washington.
"By moving him around, we kind of hurt his progress," Davis said of Smith. "We'll have him back outside this week."
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