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Brandon Graham is ‘ahead of schedule’ to return from injury as he enters contract season

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Hear from the hero of Super Bowl LII.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end and Super Bowl hero Brandon Graham spoke to reporters on Thursday afternoon for the first time since the news of his ankle surgery that took place in May.

The always-upbeat Graham expressed a positive sentiment regarding his return.

“I don’t want to put a time table on it, but I know I’m ahead of schedule right now,” he said, before also adding that the goal is to be ready by Week 1.

Graham confirmed that his high-ankle sprain occurred during the Eagles’ Week 16 win over the Oakland Raiders on Christmas night when Jalen Mills rolled up on him as the cornerback dove to make a tackle on Marshawn Lynch.

But despite suffering a painful injury that usually causes players to miss quite some time, Graham fought through it. And then he fought through a new injury that popped up in the biggest game of the season.

“Yeah, I had pulled my hamstring in [the Super Bowl] too,” Graham admitted. “I had gone out for a couple plays, I don’t know if y’all had seen it on the sideline, but yeah, it was just from me protecting my ankle. I was overcompensating, using other stuff, and I ended up pulling my hamstring a little bit. I had to roll it out. Like I said, it’s the Super Bowl, man. All or nothing. It’s just a mindset that I had to just keep going. Just kept telling myself ‘try not to feel it.’ Put some icy on it and keep it going.”

Through a high-ankle sprain and a pulled hamstring, Graham still managed to play 78% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps in the playoffs. And most impressive of all, of course, he made the biggest play in franchise history by strip-sacking Tom Brady to essentially ensure Philadelphia’s first-ever Super Bowl victory.

What a beast.

Graham certainly deserves to be rewarded for his efforts. But it remains to be seen if/when that time will come. The 30-year-old pass rusher is currently set to play out the last year of his deal.

“You know I can’t talk about no contract,” Graham said when asked about the status of negotiations. “But I’m just excited man, that I got another year to play here. It’s Year 9 for me and I’ve got another opportunity to go get a ring. I let stuff happen the way it’s supposed to happen and when it do happen, trust me, you will know.”

If the Eagles weren’t so tight on cap space, Graham may have already been extended by now. The reality of the situation is that Howie Roseman needs to be smart about how he spends their team’s available funds.

It was originally reported last November that the Eagles and Graham were working on an extension. Then a report emerged stating that Graham’s side was ‘pushing back’ on those efforts.

Here’s hoping that the Eagles and Graham find a way to agree on a contract that keeps him in Philly. The 2010 first-round pick has gone through some real tough times before eventually emerging as a Super Bowl hero. Players pay attention to who teams pay and rewarding Graham is the right thing to do. He’s never complained and he’s gone above and beyond to help win this team a title.

New deal or not, it’ll be good to see a healthy Graham back on the field for the Eagles in 2018. The defensive captain figures to be a key part of Philadelphia’s hopes to repeat as Super Bowl champions.