Curry gets second chance
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Being labeled a bust as a draft pick can follow a player long after his playing days are over.
Aaron Curry, who was traded by Seattle to the Raiders this week, will be given the opportunity to shed that label, quickly.
Curry, the linebacker who was taken fourth overall in the 2009 NFL draft, practiced for the first time with the Raiders on Friday.
Afterward, head coach Hue Jackson announced Curry would start at "Will" or weakside linebacker when the Raiders host the Cleveland Browns today.
Curry will replace Quentin Groves in the starting lineup.
And just like that, Curry's disappointing two-plus seasons were put behind him with a fresh start in Oakland.
Being benched by the Seahawks in favor of a fourth-round draft pick and not living up to lofty expectations meant nothing to the Raiders.
The franchise that became known for giving second chances to talented players under late owner Al Davis is giving Curry a chance to start over with a place in the starting lineup and a "clean slate."
"When (Jackson) told me (I was starting), I took a deep breath because that was my biggest concern ... would the opinions pass on from club to club or from person to person?" Curry said. "With him telling me, I had a clean slate that gives me the opportunity to come out here and develop."
Curry is the first player acquired since Davis died last Saturday. Jackson said Curry had been discussed with Davis in recent weeks when he'd lost his starting job and was available.
Jackson made the push to acquire Curry this week and plug him in immediately. He doesn't foresee any problems with Curry playing immediately.
"There's some terminology stuff that we work through," Jackson said. "But we'll work from sun up to sun down to get him ready. In my mind, I'm not making a trade to ease a guy into anything. We made a trade because I feel like this guy can help our football team, and he's going to be the starting 'Will.'"
Curry (6-foot-2, 255 pounds) started in Seattle as a rookie and was productive 32 tackles with two sacks and two forced fumbles in his first five games.
Curry had 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles the rest of his time in Seattle, spanning 30 games.
There were also concerns about Curry in pass coverage.
"I was putting too much pressure on myself to do too much ... thinking versus just running and hitting," Curry said. "When coach told me, 'We're coming down here to play fast and we're coming out to play smart as well, but we're going to play fast and we're going to run and we're going to hit, we're going to be a physical defense,' ... that's right down my alley."
Curry knows Raiders backup linebacker Darryl Blackstock and is familiar with the Raiders because his brother, Eric Barton, was drafted by the Raiders and played for Oakland through the 2003 season.
"(Barton) should be here today and he's going to show me the ropes, and he's going to tell me all about Raider football," Curry said. "And I'm also excited about that, to actually have the history in my blood and be able to talk to him, he's going to tell me how it should look and how we should do it."