Curry says it's much better to receive
By Jason Jones - Bee Staff Writer
Last Updated 8:46 am PDT Saturday, June 16, 2007
Story appeared in SPORTS section, Page C2
ALAMEDA -- Ronald Curry heard his name called after making a spectacular third-down catch more than once last season.
But he'd like to hear his name called before kickoff, too.
"I want to hear my name called over the loudspeakers," Curry said. " 'Ronald Curry in the starting lineup.' I want to run out the tunnel."
More times than not, Curry made a big play on third down, only to trot back to the sideline and wait for another third-and-long situation.
The receiver in his sixth season looks forward to earning a starting job. Curry started four games last season, including the last three when Randy Moss went down with an ankle injury.
He was the team's most consistent and productive offensive player, but the Raiders played it safe with him. Curry was coming off a second torn left Achilles' tendon, and he was held out most of last season's training camp, though he said he was ready from the start.
This season, Curry could be a starter from the start.
"I always want to compete," Curry said. "I've been competing since I've been here. I'd compete if I was 'the man' in the league. That's just me. The cream rises to the top. The best man should play."
That wasn't the case most of last season. Curry showed he was the Raiders' best receiver last season while Moss was disinterested and Jerry Porter was banished to the bench by coach Art Shell without explanation.
But Curry couldn't get on the field enough for the NFL's worst offense. Coaches continued to be cautious with Curry, limiting him to third-down duty most of the season.
Curry played in all 16 games last year, led the Raiders with 727 receiving yards and proved to be efficient in limited work. Of Curry's team-high 62 catches, 28 came on third down. Curry converted 21 of those catches into first downs. Overall, 40 catches by Curry led to first downs, but the Raiders didn't find room for him until late in the season when forced to by injuries.
Curry said he understood why the team was careful with him early in the offseason last year. But the slow pace at which he was brought along all season confused a player who had felt good for months.
Curry arrived at training camp last year and declared himself ready to play. That was before knowing the team had put him on the physically unable to perform list. He was told it would be limited to a week.
That stretched to four weeks.
"I knew they were being smart around this time, but as the season got closer and the reps didn't grow, of course it got a little frustrating," Curry said. "Especially when they sit you down and they don't tell you about it."
That's why Curry was happy to attack the offseason program.
"Last year I wasn't doing anything," he said. "I was healthy, but they were holding me back. This is my first real offseason. I feel good. My body feels good. It feels good to be doing some work."
Curry said he isn't content with just being on the field. He wants to prove he is more than a third-down threat, and he doesn't want to wait most of the season -- or until third down comes up -- to show it.