Rookie DE Curry eager for camp to intensify
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Vinny Curry was smiling as he walked off the Lehigh practice field on Monday. The weather was steamy, the sun was scorching, the sweat was dripping off his chin -- and he could not have been happier.
“Feels good to be out there again,” Curry said.
The rookie defensive end suffered a slight ankle injury during the Eagles' minicamp and he grew restless watching practice from the sidelines. He was counting the days until the start of training camp when he could get back on the field.
Curry was out there Monday as the rookies and selected veterans went through their first day of workouts at Lehigh. It was a quick walkthrough in the morning and light practice in the afternoon with Curry taking part.
“The level has definitely picked up a notch from minicamp,” Curry said. “This is the real deal.”
Well, not exactly. The full team doesn’t report until Wednesday and the first full practice isn’t until Friday afternoon. That’s when the live hitting starts.
“I’ll be ready for it,” Curry said with a smile.
The Eagles selected Curry with the second of their two second-round draft picks. The other pick, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, is already penciled in as a starter, but Curry will have to fight for his snaps.
Jason Babin and Trent Cole are the starting defensive ends with former first-round pick Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt also in the mix. The Eagles were not planning to draft another defensive end that high, but when Curry was still on the board late in the second round they felt he was too good to pass up.
The 6-3, 265-pounder from Neptune, N.J., is an explosive pass rusher. He had one of the quickest first steps in the entire draft and when he ran a 4.64 in the 40 on his pro workout he really caught the scouts' attention. He had 11 sacks and 22 tackles for losses last year at Marshall. He was Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.
It is one thing to have talent, but it is another to have talent that fits the system. A good player can wind up being drafted by a team that asks him to do things he has never done before and as a result he hits a wall. But Curry is a perfect fit for the Wide Nine scheme employed by Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn.
With his speed and low-to-the-ground stance (similar to Babin), Curry is very effective on the edge. In college, he was so fast out of his stance that he beat double teams just by running through them. Blockers were so wary of his speed that they overset to the outside and he beat them with a quick move to the inside.
The Conference USA competition isn’t the greatest and sometimes you can be fooled watching a player dominate at that level. But when Curry went to the Senior Bowl and put on a show against the top Division-I prospects, all doubts went away. He had a very good week of practice and in the game he had two sacks and tipped a pass that resulted in an interception.
On one of his sacks, Curry bull-rushed Zebrie Sanders, a 6-5, 330-pound tackle from Florida State, and drove him back into the quarterback. It demonstrated that Curry was more than just a speed rusher -- he could use his strength and leverage to get pressure on the passer as well.
In college, Curry often beat blockers with a spin move which looked like something off a Dwight Freeney highlight reel. That’s not a coincidence. His line coach at Marshall was Freeney’s line coach at Syracuse and he taught him the same technique. It has served Freeney well in his Pro Bowl career in Indianapolis; Curry is hoping for the same with the Eagles.
“I love watching Dwight Freeney,” Curry said. “He’s a game-changer. I try to play the same way. (Blockers) never know when the spin move is coming.”
Curry was a game-changer in college. He led the conference last season with seven forced fumbles, most of them strips on the quarterback. He also blocked three kicks. He still has some rough edges to his game – his quickness causes him to bite on misdirects so he is out of position at times – but he is willing to learn. What’s more, he is surrounded by good teachers.
“I learn so much just by watching Jason (Babin) and Trent (Cole),” Curry said, “and Coach Wash (Washburn) is one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around. He lets you know when you do something wrong, but he is always teaching.
“It is so competitive here. Coach Wash instills that. We go hard all the time. We chase down every play. We’ve got some hunters. I’m just glad to be back out there with them.”E-mail Ray Didinger at firstname.lastname@example.org