The Seattle Seahawks are gambling that the consensus safest pick in the 2009 NFL draft can become more than just a conventional strong-side linebacker.
They seem to be doing this mostly out of need, as coach Pete Carroll explained Tuesday: "We're trying to elevate that aspect of his game to help us because we need his speed on the edge and we'd love to see him coming off the edge with force and speed that will help us create some problems."
So far, so-so -- but it's early. This picture is far from complete.
The Seahawks' second exhibition game provided little evidence Curry was on his way to becoming a feared pass-rush threat. But in reviewing the two Green Bay drives with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, it was also clear Curry had relatively few chances, the Seahawks weren't doing anything special scheme-wise and Lofa Tatupu, the player considered most important for Curry's development, wasn't playing.
The Packers faced four third-down plays during those two drives with Rodgers. Curry dropped into coverage on two of them. He rushed from a four-point stance on two of them, getting slight pressure one time (Rodgers got rid of the ball before Curry could arrive). Not much to go on.
Rushing the passer with one (or more) hand on the ground is relatively new to Curry and something he will do more frequently this season. That makes sense from a need standpoint and because the fourth player chosen in his draft class should probably do more than serve as a traditional strong-side linebacker. Curry has the size, speed and demeanor to rush the passer well. Those individual components do not make a great pass-rusher automatically, however. This experiment will take time.
The Seahawks are lining up Curry on the side with their biggest defensive end, usually Red Bryant. Chris Clemons plays the pure pass-rushing "Leo" position on the other side. Against Green Bay, Curry played left side and right, strong side and weak, on and off the line of scrimmage. He usually stood up on early downs. As Curry develops, it's possible he could get work in the "Leo" role; he and Clemons aren't far apart in weight.
"He's learning this game and we’re playing him a little differently than he has in the past," Carroll said. "He really likes the position he's playing -- outside 'backer -- and playing over the tight end a lot. He still has areas to improve, in particular his pass-rush. He has never been a premier pass-rush guy. ... We're going to continue to work on that and we’ve got a couple weeks now before the season starts. That’s a way that we really need to develop him. He's still a work in progress."
A concussion sidelined Curry for an extended period early in camp . Curry still hasn't lined up in a game with Tatupu since Week 6 last season.