Curry determined to make Eagles play him

Vinny Curry , a second-round pick in 2012, says a coaching change may help his career. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff
Vinny Curry , a second-round pick in 2012, says a coaching change may help his career. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff
Posted: June 02, 2013

Vinny Curry agonized while inactive for 10 games last season, watching from the sideline in street clothes even though the Eagles defense struggled to accumulate sacks. That's what Curry was selected in the second round of the 2012 draft to do.

His rookie season never materialized the way he or the team hoped, and Curry was limited to six games and did not record a single sack. The offseason coaching changes meant that the staff that sat Curry was gone. But the new staff was not responsible for taking him in the second round and switched to a scheme that does not appear an ideal fit.

"I know how I felt last year to be inactive for 10 games, and I told myself there will be no excuse, no room for no error," Curry said. "If I'm inactive this year, it's going to be on me."

Curry's strength in college was rushing the passer, and the Eagles liked him as a fit in Jim Washburn's wide-nine scheme. He's now playing as a defensive end in the 3-4, which has different responsibilities than last season.

"They want to win," Curry said of the new coaches. "So if you're working hard and doing the right assignment and doing it better than the next guy, then you're going to be in."

Curry emphasized that, although the Eagles defense has principles of a 3-4 scheme, it's not exclusively a three-man front. And they're trying him in different roles during the offseason program, so Curry can still rush from the edge. The Eagles concluded organized team activities on Friday and begin a mandatory three-day minicamp on Tuesday.

Curry said this period is about seeing who can do what, and the responsibilities will be tailored to the personnel. When told that his strength is believed to be as an edge rusher, Curry nodded his head in agreement even though a five-technique defensive end occupies blockers and does not rush around the edge.

"I understand what you've been saying, but [the coaches] have been doing this for years," he said. "They know where my body is, what I can bring to the table, and they're going to try to maximize me to the best of my ability. But I've got to crawl before I walk."

One major change for Curry is his body. He weighed in at 266 pounds at the NFL combine in February 2012 and was listed at that weight throughout last season. He's since added more than 20 pounds.

"I'm 280, and I still can run like I'm 250," Curry said.

He insists the weight gain was not the directive of the coaches but rather growing into his large, 6-foot-3 frame. He worked out and ate the right way, and the pounds accumulated.

"You don't realize you're gaining weight," Curry said. "Obviously, you look different. But you're cut up, just putting on muscle."

One advantage for Curry is that the depth chart is not as crowded for him as it was last season. He needed to compete with Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Darryl Tapp, Brandon Graham, and Phillip Hunt for playing time.

This season, the only non-nose tackle on the defensive line with notable experience is Fletcher Cox. Cedric Thornton and Clifton Gaethers have NFL experience, Bennie Logan is a third-round pick, and there's a group of five rookies who are trying to make the roster.

Second-round picks are often afforded a longer roster shelf life than most players, although the Eagles parted ways with Jaiquawn Jarrett last season in his second year.

But Curry has talent and a work ethic that was touted when he was drafted, so now it's a matter of using both to transition to the new scheme and try to atone for what became a lost rookie season.

"I look at it like I've been to the bottom of the barrel already," Curry said. "The only way to go is up."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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