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LB Curry Ready to Live Up to Expectations

High expectations come with high draft picks, especially when you’re the highest-picked player at your position in nearly a decade.

That’s what happened to Wake Forest outside linebacker Aaron Curry when the Seahawks selected him fourth overall in the 2009 draft.

Not since Penn State’s LaVar Arrington was taken second overall by the Washington Redskins in 2000 had a college linebacker of any stripe been regarded so highly. Curry had the pedigree, winning the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker after the 2008 season.

Even at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, Curry has shown the type of track speed you’d expect from tight ends and safeties, and because of that, the Seahawks had trouble narrowing down where they wanted to use him. He played fairly well in his rookie season as a linebacker/pass-rusher hybrid, but that role took him away from his strengths, and injuries derailed his progress.

“In my first year, I had a completely different responsibility – I did more pass-rushing than I ever did in college,” Curry said.

When Pete Carroll replaced Jim Mora as the Seahawks’ head coach before the 2010 season, one of the first things he did was to look at film of Curry to see where he’d best fit Carroll’s multiple defensive schemes. Carroll, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. decided to move Curry back to more of a dedicated outside linebacker role, but there were still other responsibilities that occasionally caused Curry to struggle.

At times, Curry’s physical gifts seemed to get in the way. His speed became a liability as he overran plays and his agility didn’t serve him as well as it should have in pass coverage, because he was still adjusting to his roles in the NFL.

Carroll says that now, in Curry’s third season, player and team finally seem to be on the same page.

“Aaron, he’s deep into what we’re doing,” Carroll said. “We know how to utilize him now. Last year, we tried to figure out how much we should 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 he didn’t do before.”

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