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Pete Carroll is man of many words, and most come equipped with an exclamation point or two.
But during his first meeting with linebacker Aaron Curry, the message from the Seahawks’ new coach was as direct and to the point as Carroll wants to Curry be in his second season.
“In our first conversation, coach told me I needed to be more productive coming off the edge, because I have too many tools as far as speed and power and my burst to not get to the quarterback,” Curry said at the conclusion of the team’s three-day minicamp.
Even Curry admits that his rookie season was “pretty average,” but he is vowing to get back to playing “to the echo of the whistle.”
A key factor that led Curry being out-produced last season by linebackers selected after the Seahawks made him the fourth pick in the draft was when three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu went out for the season with a torn pectoral in Week 6. Curry became a thinker, rather than a player.
The loss of Lofa. “Last year, Aaron played his best football when Lofa was out there,” Carroll said of Tatupu, who also played for Carroll at the University of Southern California. “And Lofa helped him a lot, frankly. It got harder for Aaron without that experience right next to him. As we put this thing together, he should be able to play at that level on his own.
“With Lofa right next to him, Lofa affects guys. He helps people understand the game. So this might be a real good format for us to max out what he brings. We’re expecting a lot of good things from Aaron.”
The mind game. “The (early season) fines never slowed me down,” Curry said. “I think I let the mental aspect of the game slow me down. I was doing too much thinking. I was dreaming of big plays and then going out Sunday and chasing them, instead of just letting them coming too me.”
Curry will continue to tread that fine line between playing on the edge without losing his edge.
“I like to play with high energy and very intense,” Curry said. “But I have to re-learn how to bottle up all the energy, keep my composure and still play full speed.”
So far, better than good. Curry came into this camp “with a different mindset,” as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley put it.
“The consistency is what we’re striving for with him,” Bradley added. “You’d see flashes and then he’d burn down a little bit. Then you’d see flashes. He just appears to be on the right track right now.”
Carroll noticed – the renewed approach and the improve performance.
“Aaron is just what you’re looking for. He’s a great draft pick,” Carroll said. “He’s fast and he’s big and strong. And he’s a good kid who learns and works hard at it and has a good attitude about playing the game.
“We need to help him grow up fast.”
Curry will continue to play the strong side, but he’ll come at it a little differently.
“As far as the scheme, I’m allowed to return to my natural home on top of the tight end – setting the edge, like I did (at Wake Forest),” Curry said. “That’s just where I feel great at. It’s also a great confidence booster, because I can really work on small techniques as far as my hand placement and just really giving out power from my lower body.
“It just helps me so that when I have to play off the ball, I’ve got to remember to keep my hands inside or really transfer power from lower body. It just makes me more confident in playing football when I get a chance to dominate on the line of scrimmage and then back up and make more plays.
“Playing on the tight end makes me play a lot faster.”
If Curry can do all that, his next conversation with Carroll will be filled with a few more exclamation points.