ON THE SURFACE, you'd think the Eagles defensive end Trent Cole might see the Broncos linebacker Elvis Dumervil as a kindred spirit.
Two high-motor sack machines - Cole leads the Eagles with 11 1/2, Dumervil leads the NFL with 15. Both undersized (Cole is listed at 6-3, 270, a good 20 pounds heavier than when he was drafted in 2005; Dumervil is listed at 5-11, 248). Both middle-round draftees from less prominent college programs (Cole a fifth-rounder from Cincinnati, which wasn't very prominent in 2005, Dumervil a fourth-rounder from Louisville).
But Cole's nose crinkled when he was asked about similarities yesterday, as the Eagles wrapped up preparations for tomorrow's game against the Broncos and Dumervil. (Also, the Broncos and Brian Dawkins. Has anyone mentioned that yet?)
"He's a linebacker," Cole said.
Denver plays a 3-4, so yes, Dumervil is a pass-rushing linebacker, though until this year, he was a 4-3 end.
But it is as a linebacker that Dumervil has managed his breakout sack total, not as a hand-down d-end, and to Cole, that's a critical difference, even though Eagles coach Andy Reid said yesterday that Dumervil typically works against tackles.
"Totally different rushing," Cole said. "I use my hands to get around my guy. He's more pick-a-gap, shooting gaps, running over running backs. I'd say he goes over a lot of running backs. I've seen him get some sacks off of tackles, but mostly running backs. He's moving around, he gets to shoot gaps."
If that's the case, then maybe it's a good thing for the Eagles that Brian Westbrook is scheduled to return tomorrow; even if Westbrook isn't ready to dance through defenses 20 or 30 times a game yet, he has always been among the very best at pass blocking.
Reid was considerably more effusive when discussing Dumervil.
"They're just not giving them to him. He's normally going against [other teams'] best offensive lineman," Reid said. "He can bring it."
The Eagles' left tackle, Jason Peters, seems to be at his healthiest and most productive now. Peters was not available to discuss Dumervil, but right tackle Winston Justice was. Dumervil probably will face Peters more, but Justice expects to see a decent amount of the sack leader, who does move around, as Cole noted.
"He's so low to the ground. He uses his hands well," Justice said, when asked how a 5-11 rusher can be so effective. "It's going to be challenge for me and Jason . . . I think [the 3-4] fits him better."
Justice said he thinks Dumervil is helped just by the novelty of his build; o-tackles are used to sparring with taller, lankier guys, with whom the leverage works differently.
The Eagles were using safety-turned-linebacker Rashard Langford, (listed at 6-1, 213) to mimic Dumervil this week, until Langford got an unexpected Christmas gift Thursday night - Santa brought him a Chiefs uniform after Langford was signed by Kansas City.
"I think his size, he can get his hands inside a lot easier than guys who are tall. He might be at a disadvantage as far as his reach," Langford said before he left, when asked about Dumervil.
"He's a unique player," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "And you'd better take care of him."
Michael Vick was still unable to practice yesterday, and he said his bruised quadriceps made it impossible "to do the things I like to do."
Vick, who was hurt on a tackle by former Eagle Michael Lewis Sunday against the 49ers, is unlikely to have much of a role in the Birds' offense Sunday. But the Eagles obviously want to have him available at least as an emergency third quarterback, behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.
"That's what we're trying to work toward," said Vick, listed as questionable.
"He's sore," Reid said. "If he can work in there, we'll have that option of having three quarterbacks."
Reid said Vick will be available if "he can function without getting hurt. I don't want to put him out there if he's going to hurt himself."
Westy's a go
Brian Westbrook completed the week of practice with no setbacks and is scheduled to play tomorrow for the first time since suffering his second concussion, Nov. 15 at San Diego. Westbrook hasn't played at home since Oct. 11, against Tampa.
"He's done well this week. We've been [indoors] on turf for the 3 days," Reid said. "There's certain things we're going to do with him, both in the run game and in the pass game, so we'll see how he does. We're not going to expect him to play every play, the whole game. That's not what we're doing, going into this."
Reid was asked whether he is worried about the Eagles becoming the "sexy" pick to go deep into the playoffs, as they ride a five-game victory streak into tomorrow's game. "That word 'sexy' hasn't been used a lot to describe me," Reid said. "We don't really worry about that . . . If you start listening to that stuff, you have problems. You have to get yourself prepared like the guys did this week. You put all that stuff out of your mind and you go play. The Denver Broncos don't care if we're in the playoffs or not, they're trying to win the game" . . . Reid said that if cornerback Sheldon Brown "doesn't get elected to the Pro Bowl, I would be disappointed, because he's had that type of year." Pro Bowl selections will be announced Tuesday. Brown, in his eighth season, has never been chosen . . . Safety Quintin Demps left practice with his sore ankle; he is questionable for tomorrow . . . The Eagles won't replace Rashard Langford on their practice squad until next week, a team spokesman said. Langford, signed Thursday night by Kansas City, was the last member of the eight-man practice squad that started the season . . . Wide receiver Kevin Curtis is feeling sharper, but with Jeremy Maclin's return from that plantar fascia injury, Curtis said he might not have a greater role than he did last week in his return from knee surgery, when Curtis caught one pass for 7 yards . . . Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal will not play, because of neck and hand injuries. *
For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.