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Eagles want Vinny Curry to step up at outside linebacker after Marcus Smith’s injury

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The move should help Curry see the field more often.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Over the course of the offseason, the Eagles have been slowly incorporating defensive end Vinny Curry into the mix at outside linebacker. But with the depth at the position growing thinner, seemingly every day, defensive coordinator Bill Davis said Friday that he intends to speed up Curry's move to outside linebacker this season.

"We'll accelerate Vinny's move out there now because of the depth," Davis said Friday. "I'm excited and Vinny's excited about seeing him out there. You know, we've worked all the offseason. We kind of slowly leaked him in, and the last couple weeks he's got more and more, and this week we gave him a lot. In the game we'll give him some. So Vinny's excited.  I'm excited about seeing Vinny out there in that role."

One of the Eagles' two second round picks in the 2012 NFL Draft, Curry was drafted out of Marshall to be a pass rusher in Andy Reid's 4-3 defense. But with the exit of Reid and the hiring of Chip Kelly, Curry quickly found himself without a true position on the defense. The Eagles had Curry bulk up to play defensive end in Davis' defense, but it appears the Eagles are now more interested in using Curry as more of a pass rusher.

As Trent Cole learned during the previous two seasons, one of the biggest adjustments from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker is dropping into coverage. And while a linebacker in the Predator role (where Brandon Graham will be playing the majority of the snaps) doesn't drop back all that often, it is a necessary skill. In Davis' eyes, Curry's learning curve most closely resembles that of Cole's.

"The more reps we give them the better we'll get at it. Vinny is a bright‑eyed, very excited about the project, and he's diving into it and attacking it. So he'll probably get it quicker ... I think Trent is probably the most accurate comparison with Vinny because they're so much alike," Davis said. "They really are big, powerful defensive linemen that go forward, and they need to learn to go backwards.

"Brandon, it kind of came natural to Brandon, the backward movement. So I think Vinny and Trent are probably a closer comparison, and I think Vinny's really been in the system so the words make sense to him where that first year all the words were new to everybody."

The move to outside linebacker should help Curry see the field more frequently. Last season at defensive end, Curry played 372 snaps, good for 32 percent of all defensive plays. In that time he collected 17 tackles and an impressive  nine sacks. Last week against the ColtsCurry played eight snaps.