By Mark Eckel/Engagement Insider
For Vinny Curry it will never be that difficult again.
Curry, the Philadelphia Eagles’ fourth-year defensive end, laughs a little when talking about his first training camp with the team in 2012.
“We were up at Lehigh (University), staying in the dorms, waking up early as hell,’’ Curry said. “The rookies had to take a shuttle bus back and forth to practice. It was hard. It was tough. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.’’
Things have changed in terms of the Eagles’ training camp since Chip Kelly replaced Andy Reid as head coach. No longer does the team trek up to Bethlehem, Pa. and Lehigh, instead choosing to stay right at home in South Philadelphia at the NovaCare Complex.
And because of league rules, training camp has also been shortened both in terms of length of the day and length of the camp.
Curry, who was a second round pick out of the Eagles out of Marshall University, won’t forget that Summer of 2012.
“I’m a rookie coming into a defensive line with Jason Babin, who had 18 sacks the year before; Trent Cole had 11 sacks the years before. Cullen Jenkins had five and a half sacks,’’ Curry remembered. “And I’m supposed to be a sack guy, too. So you have to show them why you’re here; what you can do.’’
That isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially in Philadelphia where the team was coming off a disappointing season and the Reid Era was crashing to an end.
“As a rookie, in your first camp, you’re walking around and your head is on a swivel,’’ Curry said. “You’re always looking over your shoulder. You want to make that good impression, because you don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s all new to you.
“You’re coming out of college as a star college player, and honestly in college they don’t work the star players that hard. Now you’re a rookie in the NFL and you have to work harder than ever. You’re a young guy and you’re working and working and the old guys are just looking at you.’’
It didn’t help matters when Curry sprained his ankle, an injury that would actually affect most of his rookie season.
“I hurt my ankle and I tried to play and let on like it wasn’t bothering me, even though it was,’’ he said. “I didn’t want anyone to think I was hurt. But you learn. There’s the mental part of it, too.’’
Two veteran defensive ends with the team at the time Trent Cole and Darryl Tapp had the most influence on a young Curry.
“Those two guys helped me a lot, they still do,’’ Curry said. “I still go to them for advice. Right from the start they took me aside, gave me a lot of valuable advice that I still use. They just helped me all around with my game.’’
That help has turned Curry into one of the Eagles’ best pass rushers, if not one of the best in the NFC. Last year, his third season, Curry had nine sacks as a designated pass rusher. He finished second on the team, ninth in the conference and 10th among all defensive ends in sacks in 2014.
“Each year (of camp) has gotten easier for me,’’ Curry says, he gets ready for his fourth camp to start Aug. 2. “It’s way different now, mainly, because you just know what to expect more each year. Now, you’re a veteran looking at the rookies and helping them.’’