- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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And the linebacker says he will do so without the pressure of trying to live up to being the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Curry says that pressure overwhelmed him in Seattle.
“It was a burden early on in my career,” Curry told Giants.com. “It was a stress to me. I definitely felt a lot of pressure and I think the biggest mistake I made was I didn’t accept the pressure as a positive influence. I kind of saw it as a negative influence.
“Instead of accepting the role, I kind of wanted to be my own person,” he continued. “I didn’t want to be seen as just the fourth pick in the draft. I wanted to be seen as Aaron Curry. Early on, I focused a lot on my own individual success versus doing what it took to help the team be successful.”
His individual success wasn’t what anybody thought it would be coming into the league out of Wake Forest as the Butkus Award winner. He had 5.5 sacks in his first two seasons for the Seahawks but hasn’t had a sack since 2010. After three seasons in Seattle, Curry was traded to Oakland where he lasted less than two seasons before being waived.
Curry had knee issues that slowed him down and now he says he’s healthy and ready to reach the vast potential that the Giants thought he had coming out of Wake Forest.
“The knee is great,” Curry said. “I went from struggling with stairs to being able to come here and go through a full workout.”
The Giants want Curry to lose about 10 pounds and they believe he can help at either the SAM or middle linebacker positions. They currently have Jacquian Williams, Dan Connor, Keith Rivers, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger at linebacker. Mathias Kiwanuka may continue in his hybrid linebacker/defensive end role but the Giants will need somebody to fill Osi Umenyiora’s role as the third defensive end and Kiwanuka seems like the most logical choice.
“I really believe I have the ability to be an impact linebacker on this defense,” Curry said. “I feel like I can affect each play that I’m in the game.”
Perhaps Curry can finally play free now that he no longer feels the need to live up to enormous expectations.
“I feel like having been freed from that burden, that pressure and now I’m more interested in doing whatever it takes to help a team win,” he said. “And bring a positive energy and a selfless mindset versus being all about being the fourth pick in the draft. I think that’s allowed me to be more sociable with my teammates and not be so stressed out.”
“I’m not looking for any sympathy, but to me it became a job,” he later added. “My mom and my wife said, ‘You’re not the same person,’ and my response was because it became a job. But when I got to Oakland something just clicked. I just got back to having fun. I worried less about mistakes.”
Curry played in just two games in 2012 due to his knee issue. Curry and the Giants are eager to see what he can do pain-free and stress-free.
“The goal is to be the best Aaron Curry that I’ve ever been,” he said. “I have a different mindset on life and football. So I think I’ll handle the situation a lot better than I have before.”
4dDan Graziano and Adam Caplan