TAMPA— Vinny Curry said he never planned to go with the Eagles to the White House. Then they were uninvited.
“One thing that team is, what made us great last year, it’s about love, respect and peace, man,” said Curry, a key member of the Eagles Super Bowl championship team before signing with the Bucs as a free agent. “So that’s the only message we were trying to get across. So, the things, the invited, uninvited — it’s out of your hands, it’s out of my hands.
“But what are you going to do? It’s not going to change anything. We can talk about it until we’re blue in the face. Donald Trump is not going to call and say, ‘Hey, come on over.’ He’s just not.”
The White House can wait, but one place Curry would like to go, however, is to the Super Bowl. Again. So would his former Eagles and Bucs teammate, Beau Allen.
It’s not a coincidence both ended up being pursued by the Bucs. Tampa Bay was last in the NFL with 22 sacks last season. The position had no depth.
The Eagles pass rush came at opponents in waves and were tied for 15th with 38 sacks. They rotated seven or eight players. Two of them were Allen, a meaty defensive tackle, and Curry, a versatile defensive end who could’ve demanded to play on more premier pass rush downs but still finished with 4.5 sacks.
“That’s the only thing as a player you can ask for, to be unselfish within the scheme and things,” Curry said. “But at the same time, if somebody is getting hot, they’re hot. Let the hot hand play because at the end of the day, we’re in this together to win a division and have a shot of getting into the tournament and winning the Super Bowl.”
Defensive end Vinny Curry (97) talks to reporters after Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice on Thursday May 24, 2018 at One Buc Place in Tampa, Fla. MONICA HERNDON | Times
During the Bucs’ final organized team activity Thursday, Curry lined up at right defensive end with the starting defense. The plan is for him to rotate at times with Noah Spence, who will be more of a designated pass rusher.
The Bucs also added Bears free agent Mitch Unrein and traded for Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to go with returners such as six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and defensive end William Gholston.
The idea is to reduce the overall work load of any individual player but maximize their effort on each play.
“You even out the work load,” defensive line coach Brentson Buckner said. “If I’ve been a great player with 60 plays, how much better can I be if I only have to play 35? Now you plays those full speed, 100 miles per hour. Don’t count your plays, make your plays count. And so we don’t even talk about playing time. Each of my guys work so they can play 100 plays straight. But now you cut that down, look at the energy you’re going to have. Because the end goal, it doesn’t matter if I have 1,000 tackles and don’t win the game. I want guys on the field that are fresh and give us the opportunity to be the best we can be as a defensive line every snap.”
Curry is a big part of that formula. He has the ability to play defensive tackle in pass rush situations as well as defensive end.
“As you saw at Philadelphia, there was no egos,” he said. “A lot of depth, a lot of rotation, a lot of ins and outs. Guys maybe didn’t have crazy numbers, but at the end of the day, if you go per play, you get graded out at a high percentage. That’s the same thing we’ve got here.”
Buckner was a big reason why the Bucs were able to sign Curry. Buckner played 12 seasons at defensive tackle and appeared in Super Bowls with the Steelers and Panthers. Curry loves him.
“He’s been around every type of player,” Curry said. “Coached every type of player. He understands who Gerald McCoy is as a player. He understands who Vinny Curry is as a player. He understands who Beau Allen is as a player. When you know that, he’ll say, ‘Hey go watch this guy. I put it in your folder.’ He’s telling you to watch it for a reason.”
He also has no sacred cows. When McCoy flinched at the line of scrimmage, pulling some of his defensive line mates offside with him, Buckner gathered the group in a huddle and got after the six-time Pro Bowl player.
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Curry knows the Bucs have talent, but he says they also have a long way to go to even approach what the Eagles had last season.
“I don’t have the plays down pat,” Curry said. “But you watch me, and something is going to stand out from me every day. Something. Just keep adding every day. It’s like having a bank account. All you’re doing is depositing checks. So when that first game comes, or Philadelphia comes rolling in here Week 2, make that withdrawal.”
Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected] Follow @NFLStroud.