After signing a huge contract extension last February, the 2016 season was a major disappointment for Vinny Curry.
Curry finished the year with just 2 1/2 sacks and played just 43 percent of the team's defensive snaps. That wasn't good enough production for a player who just signed a $46.25 million extension.
On Wednesday, as Eagles veterans reported for training camp, Curry said he fought through injuries during the entire 2016 season. Curry sprained his MCL in the third preseason game and said the injury lingered, although he wasn't listed on the Eagles' injury report past the first few weeks of the season. Curry also claimed he dealt with a lingering hamstring injury.
"It was just a snowball effect of different type of things," he said. "I couldn't do what I do at 100 percent. You could see a flash of it, but then I couldn't finish it. There was something just missing there. I fought through it, showed guts. This year, though, I'm feeling good, feeling healthy, feeling relaxed, feeling like myself."
Curry, 29, said he's now 100 percent healthy and expects to be the type of player the Eagles thought they were getting when they gave him a big contract extension last winter.
After the Eagles handed out a huge contract to Curry, fans expected the type of production that saw him pick up nine sacks in a limited role in 2014. Instead, they got a part time player who finished with the second-lowest sack total of his career. There was a lot of criticism coming Curry's way in 2016.
"I was able to block it out," he said. "We got a great PR team. But at the end of the day, we all know that I wasn't 100 percent, so it wasn't like I was hanging my head low. It is what it is. That's just sports. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody wants to be a GM or a reporter, or everybody wants to get ahead of the next person to report something. I could not play now and just start talking trash about you and it's not going to ruin your day. You're just going to be like 'oh, what's Vinny's problem?' "
Last season, the Eagles tried to let Curry start as the team's left defensive end, but eventually Brandon Graham beat him out for the job during camp. During this spring, Curry took over Connor Barwin's old spot as the right defensive end. That's the way Graham sees things staying: Graham on the left, Curry on the right. (The Eagles also have Derek Barnett and Chris Long fighting for time.)
"I think it's set in stone," Graham said. "I like the left side. Vinny playing on the right. I think sometimes you just want to switch, sometimes it's good to give people a different look. But I think it's pretty set."
The sides defensive ends play, especially in the NFC East, is extremely important. The right defensive end will constantly go up against left tackles, normally a spot that has the best player to protect the quarterback's blind side. In the NFC East, that means going against Washington's Trent Williams for two games and Dallas' Tyron Smith for two more. That means a quarter of the schedule is against one of the best left tackles in football.
Is Curry up for it?
"I think he'll be fine," Graham said. "It's all about, like anything, when I had to move to the right side, and play the left tackles, you get used to that side as you take reps and then you get that signature move that you like. And then you have to study your guy and know what he's been getting beaten off of and incorporate that for that week. I think with Vinny and the coaching that we have in that room, he should be really good in Year 2 of this system."
Does Curry have something to prove this year?
"Just have to get back to being me," he said. "That's it."