THE COACH who drafted him is gone. The defensive system he was brought in to play is history.

Vinny Curry has every right to be worried right now, every right to be sucking down anti-depressants as if they were Jujyfruits.

But he's not.

"The way I look at it," the Eagles' second-year defensive end said, "I've been to the bottom of the barrel already. The only place to go from here is up."

A year ago at this time, the bottom of the barrel wasn't a place the Neptune, N.J., native ever expected to be, particulary in his first NFL season. Life was good. Very, very good.

He notched 11 sacks, seven forced fumbles and 27 tackles for losses his final season at Marshall and was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.

Then he was selected in the second round of the draft by the team he grew up rooting for. I mean, does it get any better than that? Does it?

He went out in his first preseason game and registered a team-high five tackles against the Steelers, including three for losses. Canton was put on alert.

But that preseason game ended up being the high point of his rookie season. When the regular season opened in September, Curry was a game-day inactive, one of seven players from the 53-man roster who didn't get to suit up.

Curry ended up being deactivated for the first 10 games. Played in the last six, but was on the field for only 89 defensive snaps. Finished with nine tackles, no sacks and no hurries.

Five of the Eagles' first six picks in last year's draft played at least 450 snaps and started at least four games. The only one who didn't was Curry.

"Last year obviously didn't go the way I had envisioned," he said. "It didn't go the way a lot of people envisioned. But that's neither here nor there. We'll be waiting all day to ask ourselves why.

"I'm just trying to move forward. From a personal standpoint, everything that happened last year, the ups and downs, I just want to move past that and get ready for this season. It's a fresh slate. A clean start. I just want to contribute to the football team like I was brought here to do."

It's still not totally clear where Curry fits in new defensive coordinator Bill Davis' scheme. But that can be said of a lot of defensive players on the team at the moment.

Davis said the best way to describe his scheme right now is "multiple," which is to say sometimes they will employ three-man fronts and sometimes they will use four-man fronts.

"We're taking the wide-nine 4-3 [that the Eagles played last year] and we're moving in the direction of the 3-4," he said. "But where we stop is yet to be determined by the players that we have."

When the Eagles lined up in a 3-4 in their OTAs and minicamps, which concluded yesterday, Curry usually lined up at the five-technique (end), while Trent Cole and Brandon Graham have been used as standup outside linebackers.

When they have split up for positional drills, Curry has stayed with the defensive linemen and Cole and Graham have worked with the linebackers.

"We've got great outside linebackers and we've got great d-ends," Curry said. "Me, just being one of those guys that's versatile, I'm 280 now, but can still run like I'm 250. It's just basically being versatile and doing what's asked of me the best way that I can."

Curry's playing weight last year as a 4-3 end was around 255. That's much too light to play five-technique. He said none of the Eagles coaches told him to add weight. Said it just happened.

Twenty-five pounds just happened?

"They didn't tell me anything," he said. "It just happened. Working out, eating right, it just happened that way. They didn't call me and say, 'Vinny, you've got to put on weight, or you've got to do this or that.' "

Even at 280, the 6-3 Curry is a tad small to be a full-time five-technique. He's not a great point-of-attack run-stopper. Pass-rushing is what he always has done best, though Curry insists he's plenty big and strong enough to be a 3-4 end.

"I'm probably one of the strongest guys on the team," he said. "You can ask my peers about that."

Davis said he will maximize the players he has and what they do best, which means if he thinks Curry has talent, he'll figure out a way to utilize it. My guess right now? As a d-end or even d-tackle in four-man fronts in passing situations.

"[Coaches] have been doing this for years now," Curry said. "They know what my value is and what I can bring to the table. They're going to try to maximize that to the best of their ability. But I also have to crawl before I walk. Get everything down pat before we take the next step.

"Right now, I'm doing a little bit of everything. Two-gapping. Pass-rushing. It depends on what the play is, what the scheme is. We're not just a 3-4 team. We do a lot of 4-3 with four guys down. Different things, different schemes for people's different skill sets.

"Right now, they're just trying to find out who is good at what and who's not. End of the day, they'll know."

Curry said he's actually happy to have a new coaching staff to deal with. While they didn't draft him, they also weren't the guys who saw fit to keep him on the bench for 10 games last season. They've got no preconceived notions.

"Everybody's starting with a clean slate," he said. "They're going to put the best athletes out there for the best situations. If you're working hard and doing the right assignment better than the next person, they're going to put you out there.

"All I can do is be the best player I can be. Go out there and whatever they ask me to do, do it to the best of my ability."

With any luck, it will translate into more than 89 snaps this season.

On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian.com