With Babin, Cole, and Jenkins Out, Reserve Defensive Lineman Step UpBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, General News, News Saturday, August 11th, 2012
The Eagles impressed Thursday night as they won their first preseason game in walk-off fashion.
However, the people you expected to impress; Nnamdi Asomugha, Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy were non-existent in Thursday’s game. It was the backups and rookies that showed up and got this team their first win of the 2012 season.
Neptune New Jersey native Vinny Curry, the second of two second-round draft picks in April, put on a show when he got his opportunity to shine. The life-long Eagles fan benefited from injuries to Jason Babin (inactive), Trent Cole (inactive), and Cullen Jenkins and showed why he was worthy of the second round pick. Unlike most positions, Curry was able to get snaps in all four quarters due to the shortage of defensive ends.
Curry is a penetrating defensive end. While it is difficult to judge his performance based on a single game against backups and third stringers, Curry looked like he was in a league of his own and dominated the Steelers’ offensive line. He had the quickest first step off the ball of anyone on the field and was in the backfield before the quarterback even had time to get his eyes downfield.
The rookie was unable to record a sack in his first game but he led the team with five tackles, five quarterback hurries and two quarterback hits. He also made it possible for his fellow defensive linemen to tally up a total of seven sacks on Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, and Jerrod Johnson.
Curry also helped to set up the first of Nick Foles’ two touchdown passes by laying a big hit on the running back in the backfield early in the third quarter which led the Steelers to punt the ball away. Those are the type of plays that get you noticed and possibly allow the Marshall product to get a few live snaps in the regular season.
Easily the position with the most depth, the defensive linemen are making it difficult for the Eagles coaching staff to decide who makes the team and who hears those dreaded words “Coach wants to see you, bring your playbook.”
Even rookies like Monte Taylor and Xavier Brown, both undrafted, were able to provide a sack and tackle each for this team. Jerrod Johnson is no Michael Vick but he is a mobile quarterback and for a defensive tackle to drag him down for a sack says a little something to those watching and definitely stands out on film.
Philip Hunt, a player who seemed a step slower than most a season ago, made strides in the offseason and it showed on Thursday. Hunt forced a fumble by reaching around his defender and knocking the ball out of Leftwich’s hand and was in on a sack of Roethlisberger that popped the ball loose but was called down. To go along with the forced fumble, Hunt added two sacks, to lead the team, and four tackles.
The former Canadian Football League star may be playing for a roster spot this preseason and he certainly wanted to give the coaches no doubt that he deserved it. He stormed out of the gate and gave the Eagles opportunities to stay in the game in the second half.
One thing I sure am happy about is that I am not Andy Reid or Howie Roseman and I will not be the one having to decide which defensive linemen make this team. There are more games for that though, and on August 28th and September 2nd, it is certain that we will hear some surprise players on the Eagles’ cut list.
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