Trent Cole underwent surgery on his fractured left hand and will miss the game Saturday against the Washington Redskins, coach Chip Kelly said Wednesday. Cole had a plate inserted into his hand. His status for the Dec. 28 regular-season finale against the New York Giants remains undetermined.
Brandon Graham will start in Cole's place at outside linebacker. Graham, a former first-round pick, has been a reserve for Cole and Connor Barwin throughout the season. Graham has 34 tackles and has matched a career high with 51/2 sacks this season while playing 39 percent of the defensive snaps. He'll play more on Saturday.
"Brandon can set an edge," Kelly said. "Brandon can rush a quarterback. He's doing a better job in pass coverage. We've been really happy with him."
Marcus Smith and Bryan Braman are the reserve outside linebackers. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis indicated that he will not rotate players in as much as he normally would, but both players could be called upon more than usual.
Smith, the Eagles' first-round pick in May, has played only 68 defensive snaps this season. He could see action at outside and inside linebacker on Saturday. Braman has played only nine snaps this season. Kelly did not say which linebacker would play first, although Smith has had more of a role on defense this season.
"It really just depends on what [Davis] is calling and what we're using at that point in time during the game," Kelly said.
Cole, a 10-year veteran, has not missed a game since 2011. He has 61/2 sacks this season.
Quarterback Nick Foles (broken collarbone) returned to practice Wednesday, but he has been declared out for the Redskins game. Foles can throw and take part in drills, although he still must avoid contact.
"I think Nick can throw - I don't think you're going to see anything different from him throwing - but he can't have any contact because if he gets hit, he can reinjure it," Kelly said. "That's the biggest concern right now."
Kelly said the Eagles have not considered putting Foles on injured reserve. They did not find out he would be out this week until Monday and had been hoping to get him back. Kelly is still holding out hope that Foles can return this season.
"If he can get cleared, he can play," Kelly said. "But I don't know if he'll ever get cleared, and I am not a doctor. I just go off [the doctors]. We never had any discussions with Nick that we have potential to move him to IR."