We’ve heard from Eagles’ veteran Brandon Graham a couple times this offseason, but he spoke to media on Sunday for the first time since returning to the NovaCare Complex. He talked a bit about the team’s edge rushers, defensive tackles, and his health.
He also talked about his decision not to opt out, and Graham emphasized that he and his wife decided they weren’t going to live in fear, despite how COVID has affected their families, but are going to be as safe as possible. Going into his 11th season, the veteran said that he couldn’t really afford to take a year off if he could help it, but it was a collective decision between he and his wife.
Here’s what else Graham had to say:
On the edge rushers
Graham was happy they brought back Vinny Curry, an experienced player who is super familiar with the defense and with head coach Doug Pederson’s messaging to the team — and he was with the Eagles when they won a Super Bowl, so he knows what it takes.
As far as some of the younger guys, Graham mentioned Josh Sweat as a guy who has been “working his butt of everyday” and Derek Barnett is “trying to have his breakout year”. This is the first offseason for Barnett, that he doesn’t have to worry about coming back from an injury, so he’s eager to make everyone eat their words this year.
“I’m not worried about the position at all, it’s just we have to make sure that we come to play everyday, because we’re kind of behind the 8-ball right now with all the COVID stuff that’s been happening. So, right now, we’re just leaning on each other to make sure that we stay on each other to get in shape — the best shape we can be to play the first game.”
He was then asked about 2019 draft pick Shareef Miller, and the two had been working out together even before camp. Graham went back to Philly about a week before they were required to report, and he noted that Miller is in the best shape he’s seen him in, and he’s excited for him heading into Year 2. The veteran gives Miller as much information as he can, and he’s grasping things and moving faster. Graham said he truly believes Miller is going to get better each and every day, and the young player can’t wait to get the pads on and show how he’s improved.
Graham was later asked about Genard Avery, specifically, and how he’s looking this offseason.
“I think that boy is fast off that rock. Somebody whose confidence is boosting, especially from him coming in last year, having to learn on the fly. I feel like he’s coming into his own. It’s just all about once we get on the pads, you can really see whose going to separate themselves, but right now so far so good.
Him and Joe Ostman, both of them are out there running fast and looking good. I feel like our group is hungry to prove themselves.”
Later on, Graham also admitted that the limited offseason isn’t the best situation for the rookies and young players, but he believes the guys just need to come in ready to learn and learn the playbook, and build trust with the coaches that they’re be ready when called upon. Graham also noted that he’s doing everything he can to help the rookies in his room, and whoever else may not be doing well.
However crazy this situation, there’s no excuses, and without preseason games these guys will have to show what they’ve got in practice.
On the defensive tackles
“We got to put the work in everyday, but I do love the energy these guys bring to the table, everyday right now.
[Javon] Hargrave, he’s fast off that ball. Somebody his size, moving like that, I’m excited for what’s to come. Especially, because, seeing him in Pittsburgh, I know they ran a 3-4 and he’s not able to come off as fast as he’s been able to come off in our defense. I think he’s a great fit.
I think Malik [Jackson] definitely has that chip on his shoulder too, to go out there and prove what he can do because his playing time got cut short last year, so I know he’s excited to get out there. And, he looks good.
All I gotta do is my part outside, and I believe them boys on the inside are going to help us, and we’re all going to work well together.”
On his health and goals
Graham said several times that this is the best he’s felt heading into training camp in a long time, and while there are definitely advantages to having OTAs, his body was able to get so much more rest — which was needed.
“I’m not having any nagging injuries right now, hopefully, we keep it that way. I feel like my goal of double digit sacks is in the near future.”