Eagles Camp Notes: Marcus Smith Injury Opens the Door for Curry at OLB
PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles and Baltimore Ravens finished their third and final day of joint practices Friday in advance of their preseason encounter tomorrow night at Lincoln Financial Field.
The session was a glorified walk-through with an emphasis on situational football as each club worked on things like onside kicks and Hail Marys.
Presumably Sam Bradford didn't roll an ankle as Chip Kelly quipped on Thursday so the starting quarterback is expected see his first live action Saturday night against the Ravens unless the Eagles' coach feels the third preseason game in Green Bay is enough for the oft-injured signal caller to shake off the rust.
Kelly and the quarterbacks didn't speak Friday so defensive coordinator Bill Davis was left to make the news, which included the fallout after the Thursday hamstring injury to second-year outside linebacker Marcus Smith, and the notion that starting cornerback Nolan Carroll will begin to see some reps inside in the slot position.
Smith confirmed to 973ESPN.com that he could miss up to four weeks of action with his latest hamstring problem but two to three is the more likely timetable, one that would have the edge player back on the field for Week 1 in Atlanta.
"Two to three weeks, maybe four," Smith said after practice Friday. "I just have to keep going through the same protocol as during OTAs (when Smith was also struggling with a hamstring problem). The doctor said I may have even broken up some scar tissue from the last one."
“I’m glad it wasn’t anything major, but it’s still something that keeps him out,” Davis added before practice. “It’s disappointing, probably to him more than anybody. He was really taking some growth steps and coming along."
Smith, however, claims he isn't down.
"It isn't frustrating," he stated. "I know everything happens for a reason and I just have to get back out there as soon as possible."
With Smith out for the foreseeable future, the Eagles' depth behind starters Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham is extremely thin and Davis said the team plans to speed up the move of pass-rushing defensive end Vinny Curry to OLB as well as cross-train veteran Brad Jones, a former starter in Green Bay.
“We’ll accelerate Vinny’s move out there now because of the depth,” Davis admitted. “We’re excited and Vinny’s excited about seeing him out there. We’ve worked all the offseason, and we’ve slowly leaked him in. The last couple of weeks he’s gotten more and more, and this week, we’ll give him a lot. And in the game, we’ll give him some.”
A natural, pass-rushing defensive end, asking the 280-pound Curry to drop and play in space could be an issue, something the big man downplayed.
"I'm just going to do what the coaches ask of me and have fun with it," Curry said. "I just have to keep working, get out there and just do my job correctly and the rest will take care of itself.
"I dropped in coverage at college, too. It's not something that's super new. It's just the form of getting back to it. I thought I shook off some of the rust in yesterday's practice. I had a lot of good drops and just have to keep going forward."
The embattled Smith, who barely got on the field as a rookie first-round draft pick last season, has other ideas, though, and considers today's machinations in wake of his injury temporary fixes until he's back.
"I was on an uphill slope," Smith said." I think I was able to keep improving every day. There is always something you can get better at but I think I was getting to that point where I could be unstoppable and for that (the injury) to happen is a minor setback to a major comeback."
*It's pretty clear over the past few days that rookie corner Eric Rowe feels more comfortable on the outside and that may have prompted the need to start getting Carroll some practice reps in the slot next week. Davis framed it as cross-training so all the CBs can play inside and out but it was obvious the Eagles wanted one of their young corners to seize the slot position and that just hasn't happened.
*Davis said their is no winner yet at safety behind Malcolm Jenkins and Walter Thurmond but did praise the work of both Chris Maragos and Chris Prosinski, an indication Ed Reynolds' stellar play in the preseason opener hasn't carried over into practice. Earl Wolff, meanwhile, remained sidelined with his troublesome knee.
*Davis said that he doesn't know if the top three ILBs (DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks) will be available Saturday. That's probably a good indication that the Eagles plan to hold them back.
*Veteran wide receiver Miles Austin did not practice on Friday.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen