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Curry adds energy to struggling Eagle defense

reuben frank csnphilly

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 11:18 PM

Frank

Curry adds energy to struggling Eagle defense

November 28, 2012, 7:15 pm

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Maybe it’s a coincidence that one day after rookie defensive end Vinny Curry made his NFL debut, the Eagles released veteran defensive end Jason Babin.

Or maybe not. Maybe a glimpse at the future was enough for the Eagles to realize there was no reason for Babin to be part of the present.

Curry, the Eagles’ rookie second-round draft pick, made a successful NFL debut Monday night in the Eagles’ loss to the Panthers, and 16 hours later, Babin – who had 18 sacks and went to his second straight Pro Bowl last year – was released.

No Babin means more playing time for Curry, who was inactive the first 10 weeks of the season.

“It means a lot,” Curry said. “It gives you that urge to go even harder in practice.”

Curry made five solo tackles Monday night and showed terrific energy, good pass rush moves and solid run defense (see Film Study).

“I gave it all I had,” Curry said. “I was kind of upset I didn’t get any sacks. I almost had a couple, but things slipped away, I got knocked off him [Cam Newton] one time, but I was bringing it. I was trying to make a statement.

Curry said it was frustrating to be inactive for 10 weeks in a row, but said what really hurt was hearing speculation he was inactive all year because he wasn’t practicing well.

Andy Reid kept saying there just weren’t enough reps to go around for Curry to play, but continued lack of production from Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt finally landed Curry his chance.

“This is what I do,” he said. “I love this game. This is my life. I work very hard at my craft, I just tried to come out there and show it.”

Curry had three near sacks but instead of being encouraged by how close he got, he said he was upset he couldn’t finish.

“I just wanted to get a sack,” he said. “I came close a few times, but first game, I just wanted to get a sack and do something big to help the team.”

With first-round draft pick Fletcher Cox having an all-rookie type of season at defensive tackle, the Eagles at least have the makings of a quality young defensive line during this otherwise catastrophic season.

The only other years in Eagles history when two rookie defensive linemen were both part of the regular rotation were 1995 with Mike Mamula and Kevin Johnson and 2005 with Mike Patterson and Trent Cole.

“Vinny rides to the game with me for every home game, and he was jacked,” Cox said. “He was ready. He was excited. I was excited for him. I think one time he got too excited in the locker room. I told him to just calm down, his chance was coming. Vinny did a great job with it being his first game since college.”

Patterson, now in his eighth year with the Eagles, has taken Curry under his wing this year and liked what he saw Monday from his 24-year-old teammate.

“He’s come along really well,” Patterson said. “I’m happy for him to go out there and play the way he did. I think he just came out and showed everybody he’s able to play.”

Curry was on the field for 21 out of 67 defensive snaps Monday night, but with Babin gone, that number is sure to go up.

Cole and Brandon Graham will start at defensive end from here on out and Curry will be the first guy off the bench, so look for him to be in the 30s or 40s starting Sunday night in Dallas.

Hunt, who has been inactive the last three games, is expected to be back on the field this weekend.

Tapp, who had been getting a lot of snaps early in the year, saw his numbers dwindle down to just one defensive play Monday. It remains to be seen whether the Eagles will shorten the bench this weekend and go with Cole, Graham, Curry and Hunt or rotate all five guys.

The Eagles will be trying to avoid their eighth straight loss Sunday night in Dallas. That would be their longest losing streak since they lost their last four in 1969 and first seven in 1970 and their longest in one season since they lost their first 11 games in 1968.

Curry said it’s tough to enjoy his playing time and production considering the team hasn’t won since September.

“I had a good game or whatever, but I just feel bad for these guys,” he said, looking around the locker room. “These dudes work hard, you know? And we’re just not reaping the rewards, and it hurts.”

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com