Next up in our Training Camp Position Preview series is the defensive end group, which is transitioning back to a 4-3 defense after spending the last three seasons in a 3-4 ...
What Will The DE Rotation Look Like?
It's no secret that the Eagles' defensive line appears to be one of the team's major strengths this season. In terms of the defensive ends, Connor Barwin, Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham are the most experienced of the group, but the Eagles have created a lot of depth at the position. The team also has the likes of Bryan Braman, Steven Means and Marcus Smith at its disposal, while adding Alex McCalister through the draft.
With so many bodies at the position, it will allow the team to create a steady rotation on gamedays – keeping the defense fresh and getting a leg up on the opposition. With defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's attack defense, the rotation will be key to success. The team's top contributing defensive ends will be determined throughout the course of Training Camp. Will Smith finally make an impact? Will the rookie McCalister impress during camp? Defensive end will be a position to watch over the next few weeks.
Curry Playing Under New Deal
Since he was drafted by the Eagles in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Vinny Curry hasn't had the easiest road in the NFL. After spending his first season in a 4-3 defense, Curry had to adjust the following year as the team converted to a 3-4 under then-head coach Chip Kelly. Although not the most natural fit for the defensive end, he certainly proved himself in the limited action he saw. In 2013, he racked up four sacks and nine quarterback hurries while playing only 26 percent of the defensive snaps. A year later, he finished second on the team with nine sacks and tied for first with four forced fumbles. That season he played 32 percent of the defensive snaps. Curry saw the field for just 35 percent of the defensive snaps in 2015. He ended the season with 21 quarterback hurries, second most on the team.
Although Curry has a small sample size, with the Eagles moving back to a 4-3 under head coach Doug Pederson and Schwartz, the team signed him to a five-year contract during the offseason. The defensive end is now a core piece of the Eagles' defense moving forward and will see a dramatic increase in snaps this upcoming season. In this new attack defense, it wouldn't come as a shock to see Curry's name all over the stat sheet this season. However, only time will tell how the veteran handles his new role.
As you look ahead to Training Camp, get to know the Eagles' defensive ends who are looking to get after the quarterback and shake up the competition.
Will 2016 Be The Year For Smith?
The Eagles' first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Marcus Smith has flashed his potential at times over the course of the last two seasons, but hasn't had overwhelming success in his rookie and sophomore campaigns. He played in eight games in 2014 and 13 games in 2015, with his most significant playing time coming in last season's finale against the Giants. That game, he notched a sack and two quarterback hurries, ending the year on a high note.
With a new defensive scheme and his transition from linebacker to defensive end, the question still is could this be the year Smith takes off? It's fair to say 2016 could very well be a make-or-break year for Smith after his past two years and his play will definitely be something to watch as Training Camp kicks off.
|Training Camp Roster: Defensive End|
|Name||Age||Exp.||Signed Through||2015 Games Played (Started)|
|Connor Barwin||29||8||2018||16 (16)|
|Bryan Braman||29||6||2016||16 (0)|
|Vinny Curry||28||5||2020||16 (0)|
|Brandon Graham||28||7||2018||16 (10)|
|Steven Means||25||2||2017||0 (0)|
|Marcus Smith||24||3||2017||13 (0)|