For Vinny Curry, the wait is finally over. After 10 games of watching either on T.V. or from the sidelines, the second-round defensive end is finally in line to join his teammates on the field this Monday night against the Carolina Panthers.
Curry, 6-3, 266, had been stuck at the bottom of a defensive line pecking order that has had 10 and 11 players on it all season, including six defensive ends. A die-hard Eagles fan growing up, Curry has been dying for his chance to finally play, but he's also been aware of where he stands.
"I'm definitely (about to burst). I've been at that point," said Curry Wednesday. "You want to say it's for the best and everything. You just want to play your part being a young guy. Patience is the key and I've been very patient and confident in our D-line room. Those guys, face it, are household names mostly everybody in there. So I understand how I was going to have to climb that ladder. But I also want to establish my name around this league."
So it's been frustrating at times for Curry, who played every game of his college career at Marshall once he earned a spot during his freshman season, notching Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year honors as a senior and making the conference's first team in both his junior and senior seasons. Curry, along with San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James, is one of only two second-round picks who have yet to play in a game this season. But throughout the waiting game of his rookie season, Curry has received encouragement from some of his veteran teammates.
"I've got good guys in the locker room, down to (Brent) Celek, DeMeco (Ryans), Trent (Cole) and Mike Patterson," Curry said. "Those guys, and (Darryl) Tapp, they're always encouraging me, 'Man, it's coming, don't worry about it. You're doing good in practice and everything.' Even down to (Michael) Vick and (LeSean McCoy), those guys, they see how hard I practice. They say, 'Your time's coming, your time's coming.' And now it's here on Monday night."
Curry, apparently, has made quite the impression on those veterans with his consistent hard work in practice.
"Vinny's a great player," said Celek. "I always tell him that. Going against him on the scout team, I always tell him, 'Listen, there's one day you're going to get your chance, just be ready for it. Don't be nervous. Enjoy it. Have fun and you'll do fine.' I know how I felt when I first played in my first game and I got an opportunity and it's nerve-wracking. Especially him being from this area, this is his team. So him playing for his hometown team is awesome. I'm happy for him. I'll be rooting him on more than anybody and I'm excited to see what he can do. He's a great player."
"I've just been telling Vinny to keep working," said Ryans. "Vinny's a good player. He's been not able to get the reps, but it's difficult for him because he was a higher drafted guy. I just continue to tell him your time is going to come and when your time comes, you have to be ready to show people what you got. Now, nobody knows about Vinny Curry, but I know the heart and the fight that Vinny has and the way that he comes to work every day. When he lines up out there, everybody's going to recognize who Vinny is."
In his own way, Curry has tried to repay his teammate's encouragement, though it's been hard as the team is mired in its six-game losing streak.
"I try to be the biggest cheerleader for those guys, but when you're losing, you don't want to hear that rah-rah (stuff)," he said. "It's tough. It's painful because I know how hard these guys work at practice. I see how much they put into it."
Curry first found out that he would get his chance to be active against the Panthers on Twitter, where the news was first reported.
"Then I was just like, I wonder if this is true," Curry said. "You're kind of anxious to get back to work to see if it's true. But it was true and today coach Wash told me I'm going to be up and I'm just excited.
"Like I told (Washburn) after the meeting, I'm going to play my ass off, just try to do my best."
Curry isn't exactly sure how much playing time he'll get on Monday, or on which side of the line he'll be playing (though he's taken more reps at right defensive end, he said). He's planning on spending Thanksgiving back in his hometown of Neptune, NJ, where he'll enjoy the holiday with his family and watch the yearly rivalry game between Neptune and Asbury Park (Curry said he won the matchup every year except his senior season, which still sticks in his craw). But with the most anticipated meal of the year on tap, Curry can't stop thinking about what he's going to do in his first regular season game.
"Man, I'm hungry, very hungry," Curry said. "I just want to show everybody what I can do and what I can add already to our D-line. I just want to be set up in the right position to excel.
"I'm just a guy who's going to work his tail off. I was brought here in the second round and I just want to show them what I can bring to the table and let them form their own opinion about me."
Finally, we'll have that chance.
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