The Seattle Seahawks have tried linebacker Aaron Curry at defensive end and even as an inside pass-rusher while seeking to maximize his value.
They went into the 2010 season determined to expand his role beyond that of strongside linebacker. But with Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock providing purer pass-rush abilities, Curry never emerged in that area. Re-signing Brock and adding veteran defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson in free agency gave Seattle pass-rush options beyond Curry this season.
Coach Pete Carroll offered his latest thinking on Curry when speaking with reporters Saturday:
“We know how to utilize him now. I think we understand it. Last year, we tried to figure out how much we should pass-rush him and move him around in pass-rush situations. He’s really an outside linebacker and he does a really good job of doing that. He’s playing first-team in the nickel package right now, and that’s something as a linebacker that he didn’t do before. That’s a good upgrade for him. He’s comfortable with the passing game. He’s just having a fantastic camp. He really seems like a different kid out here.”
Sometimes highly drafted players feel pressure to meet expectations early in their careers. Defensive end Chris Long, chosen second in the 2008 draft, fell into this category through his first and into his second seasons. He blossomed in 2010 after moving to the left side. He seems to be having much more fun playing football now that he has settled into a role comfortable to him.
Curry, the fourth player chosen in the 2009 draft, could be following a similar path. One difference: Teams value pass-rushing defensive ends such as Long more than they value solid all-around strongside linebackers. Overall, it’s logical to think Curry would benefit from narrowing his focus. At the very least, Curry must be a good linebacker.
“He’s more confident, he’s looser, he’s more comfortable, just everything about him is on the upswing and he’s having a blast out here,” Carroll said of Curry. “I’m really happy to see that. Obviously, we knew he’s a terrific athlete, so he’s off to a great start for us.”