Since he joined the Eagles as an unheralded fifth-round draft choice in 2005, defensive end Trent Cole has made his reputation by sacking quarterbacks.

He had five his first year - while making just seven starts - but recorded eight or more in each of the next six seasons, two of which ended with Pro Bowl honors.

So for Cole, this season has been baffling, because he has recorded just 11/2 sacks for the 3-4 Eagles. And the struggles aren't limited to Cole. The Eagles have recorded just nine sacks overall.

"It gets frustrating, but that frustration you take to the next play and try to go harder," Cole said on Friday as the Eagles prepared for Monday night's game at the Superdome against the New Orleans Saints.

Cole, who totaled 331/2 sacks over the previous three seasons, refuses to make excuses. Yes, he has been double-teamed, but he laughed when it was suggested that it is his own fault for his past stellar play.

"I see a lot of chips, double teams, but it doesn't matter to me," Cole said. "That is only an excuse, and I got over that years ago."

Eagles coach Andy Reid said both Cole and fellow defensive end Jason Babin have received special attention from opposing offenses. After recording 18 sacks last year, Babin has 21/2 this season.

"[Cole and Babin] are getting chipped quite a bit, which is understandable," Reid said. "Those guys will keep pushing, and eventually it will work out."

According to Reid, the 30-year-old Cole's lack of sacks is not due to lack of effort or to advanced age.

"I haven't seen any loss of step or loss of movement or anything there," Reid said. "He knows one speed, and that's how he goes. He does it the whole game. He doesn't take plays off."

Cole has 691/2 regular-season sacks, third in team history. He has added another 11/2 sacks in seven career playoff games. Reggie White has the Eagles all-time regular-season sack record with 124 in eight seasons, while Clyde Simmons is second with 76.

And now Cole, who has gone sackless the last four games, faces Saints quarterback Drew Brees, not the easiest player to sack due to his quick release.

Cole has sacked Brees 11/2 times in his career. He earned half a sack in a playoff loss to the Saints in January 2007 and added another in the regular season.

"New Orleans does a lot of short routes, and Brees gets rid of the ball pretty fast," Cole said.

Like all accomplished sackers, Cole keeps thinking that the next game will provide a breakout performance.

"We are out here working hard in practice and doing what we have to do to find out a way to turn things around," he said.