Believe it or not, the beginning of the 2014 season is rapidly approaching. Players will report back to the NovaCare Complex on April 21 for the start of the Eagles offseason program. Join us as we count down until the Eagles are back in town ...
The shift from a 4-3 to 3-4 defense in 2013 necessitated position changes for a number of Eagles players. Among them was Vinny Curry, one of the team's two second-round picks in 2012 and a traditional 4-3 defensive end. Curry was inactive for the first 10 games of his rookie season but showed potential in limited action. Then, when Bill Davis arrived as new defensive coordinator, the Eagles had to decide how Curry fit into the scheme: Would he have to lose weight and stand up as a pass rushing outside linebacker, or would he have to gain weight to play the five-technique, defensive end spot? The team chose the latter, and Curry put on 15 pounds in the offseason to meet the requirements. While he did not earn a full-time starting position in 2013, he found his niche as a valuable rotational player and wreaked havoc as a pass rusher in sub-packages. Curry finished with 20 total tackles, 4.0 sacks and 11 hurries (third on the team) despite playing just 337 snaps, 30 percent of the defense's total during the 2014 season. He will look to expand his impact in a similar role in 2014.
First Eagle To Wear 20: C John Lipski (1933-34)
Last Eagle To Wear 20: S Brian Dawkins (1996-2008)
A second-round pick out of Clemson in the 1996 NFL Draft, Brian Dawkins will forever be one of Philadelphia's most beloved professional athletes. Simply put, Dawkins is the best safety in franchise history and is among the best the NFL has ever seen. He helped revolutionize the position due to the fact that he had an interchangeable skill set which enabled him to make in impact in the box, in the backfield, as a blitzer and as a centerfielder in coverage. Furthermore, Dawkins was the key piece of a dyamic defense that spurred the Eagles' rise to dominance in the early-to-mid-2000s. Aside from his longevity, versatility and unprecedented on-field production, it was his intensity and leadership that made Dawkins such a unique presence. Players gravitated towards Dawkins and rallied around him, while fans identified with him because his passion mirrored their own.
In his 13-year career with the Eagles, Dawkins played in 183 games and started 182 of them, making seven Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams. He was a stat-stuffer extraordinaire, recording 913 total tackles (723 solo), 34 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), 21.0 sacks, 32 forced fumbles and 16 fumble recoveries (one returned for a touchdown). Dawkins' 183 games played ranks second (first for a non-specialist) in franchise history, while the 34 interceptions and 32 forced fumbles rank first.
Dawkins was selected as a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and Eagles 75th Anniversary Team and had his jersey number retired during the 2013 season.