Aaron Curry finally appears to be living up to his billing
The linebacker, drafted No. 4 overall in 2009, has become adept at playing near the line of scrimmage and showed flashes of what he can do in a victory over Arizona on Sunday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks @ New Orleans, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 13
RENTON — Waiting for Aaron Curry to turn the corner?
So was Ben Patrick, Arizona's tight end in the third quarter. Fearing Curry's speed on the outside, Patrick played Curry's outside shoulder to keep Seattle's linebacker from getting around him only to have Curry cut inside.
"I'm not a robot," he said after the game.
No, he's not. He is a unique combination of size and strength, considered the most NFL-ready player available in the draft a year ago. And on that third-quarter play in Arizona, those physical gifts combined with his instincts as he changed course, cutting inside after hitting Patrick with a left-handed shove. No sooner was the blocker off balance than Curry clobbered Arizona quarterback Derek Anderson from behind to force a fumble that Seattle recovered.
This was the kind of play the Seahawks envisioned when they chose Curry No. 4 overall in 2009. The kind of play that punctuated his best game in the NFL with an exclamation point as he finished with two sacks and tied for a team-high seven tackles. And it was the kind of play that made you wonder why there haven't been more Sundays like this for Curry.
"He's got everything you could want," said Ken Norton Jr., Seattle's linebackers coach.
Everything, and he's especially coachable, Norton emphasized. The last two linebackers off the field after Wednesday's practice: Curry and Joe Pawalek, an undrafted free agent from the practice squad. They stayed for extra pointers from Norton.
Yet for more than a year now, the city has waited to see Curry become that singularly destructive force that was expected after he was drafted earlier than any linebacker since 2001. So what kept him from breaking out earlier?
"I like the style that we're playing him in now," coach Pete Carroll said. "I think he's the best at playing on the line of scrimmage, playing on tight ends, hands on them, because he is so physical and he's explosive."
At strongside linebacker, Curry is asked to set the edge on the line of scrimmage. To keep opponents from stretching running plays to the outside on his half of the field.
He's also become more of a pass rusher, something he was not asked to do in college. And after a rookie season in which he often dropped off the line of scrimmage, Curry is mixing it up inside.
"He can become one of the best guys in the league at playing the line of scrimmage," Carroll said. "I think it's what he's really special at."
And let's not overlook what Curry has accomplished. He has established himself as an NFL starter. He has made plays like the two sacks he had in his first five games in 2009. He forced two fumbles in those games, too.
Except he didn't have a sack the rest of his rookie season, and he managed only one in the first eight games of this year, and there was a game in Chicago when the Seahawks opted often for six, even seven defensive backs and Curry was on the field for less than one-third of Seattle's defensive snaps.
It was enough to make you wonder where Curry fit in the future. He was drafted by a different GM for a different coach, and you started to question if those first five games of his rookie season would be as good as it got for Curry in Seattle.
What happened last weekend in Arizona wasn't a revelation, just a reminder of his physical gifts. This is a player fast enough to run from a hash mark to the opposite sideline and make a tackle and someone strong enough to line up at defensive tackle as he did on a third-down play in the second quarter, stuffing a draw play to force the Cardinals to kick a field goal.
It was incredible. It was also just an appetizer, according to his position coach.
"That's just a small amount of what he can do," Norton said.
And now, halfway through his second season, Curry might be in position to turn the corner in his career.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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