Brandon Graham wants his starting job back. The rookie defensive end, a Michigan product, has just two sacks through nine games and is hoping to increase his effectiveness down the stretch. Graham has battled numerous minor injuries that decreased his productivity and contributed to losing his starting spot to Juqua Parker.
“I just can’t wait til I get back out there, [and get] that number one,” Graham said.
From the start of training camp, Graham has been asked to learn a lot in the Eagles defense. The 6’1”, 268 pound defensive end has also lined up at defensive tackle in the team’s nickel package and has occasionally dropped into coverage. Still, Graham doesn’t believe his lack of impressive stats has anything to do with a learning curve.
“When I get that number one spot back, I believe it’s really going to be trouble [for opponents],” Graham said. “It’s going to be alright, I mean I’m going to do what I can right now, but it’s just limited reps. You’ve got to get the feel of the game, you’ve got to be that number one guy.”
Graham always talks about when, not if, he regains the starting spot. Parker has seen his production drop off since notching four sacks in the first three games of the year. Since, he has just one in six games. Whether or not that leads to Graham getting another chance as the starter remains to be seen, but Graham expects to show an extra burst if he does.
“You want to be out there at the beginning, because that’s really when everybody’s emotion’s at it’s high,” said Graham. “That’s when you really let a man know, you know like, ‘Hey I aint playing with you today,’ and they change as a player. If you hit him in the mouth early, then he don’t want to mess with you all game.”
Graham had a similarly slow start to his collegiate career, not registering any sacks in his first year at Michigan. He went on to be one of the most productive Wolverines, with 28 sacks in his last three years in Ann Arbor. So even if Graham struggles the rest of 2010, an identical jump in his numbers next year would deem him a successful first-round pick.
“It gets to me sometimes, like man I want to be able to be that guy that I was in high school right away,” Graham said. “It comes in time, and that’s all I’ve been doing is just being patient.”
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