Graham proving to Eagles he was worth pick


Graham proving to Eagles he was worth pick

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Maybe Brandon Graham wasn't a first-round bust after all.

After finally getting a chance to start three weeks ago, Graham has thrived for the Philadelphia Eagles. He has four sacks in three games since replacing two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, who was released last month.

``The opportunity comes when they see you working and see you focused,'' Graham said. ``I was just trying to stay focused, not trying to worry about how many snaps I've played. If we won and I only played one (snap), I'm happy. I just kept at it, kept at it and once my opportunity came, I was going to make sure that, at least, I was ready.''

The Eagles coveted Graham so much they traded three draft picks to move up and select him with the 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft. But Graham had just three sacks in his first two seasons, both shortened by a serious knee injury.

Graham started this year on the bench playing behind Babin, who had 18 sacks last year. But Babin failed to match the same level, getting 5 1/2 sacks in 11 games. When the Eagles (4-10) dumped him, Graham got his chance to prove he belongs.

``You never know,'' Graham said. ``I just kept pushing. I wasn't really worried about it. I was just hoping that one day my day would come to be able to step up and show them what I can do.''

Graham had a stellar career at Michigan before coming to Philadelphia. He had 29 1/2 sacks, 56 tackles for loss and eight forced fumbles in 46 games across four seasons. He was the first defensive player in school history to be voted team MVP twice.

Graham started six games his rookie season and had three sacks. He was just starting to show his potential when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in December.

It was worse than the average ACL injury. Graham needed microfracture surgery, so the recovery took longer. He missed the first two months of the 2011 season, came back in November and played in just three games.

``Once I got back and was back in action off of the PUP list, I still was not moving (well),'' Graham said. ``It kind of challenged me. They said my knee was all right. I felt like it was all right and I still wasn't doing what I knew I could. That was the hardest part and now I'm comfortable, I feel good and that's history. Now it's time to move forward.''

Graham moves forward, knowing he endured the toughest of times.

``It's all mental,'' he said. ``How strong are you as a person to fight through the pain in the beginning? Because that's the hardest part. You really don't see the day when it will finally stop hurting. You just know at the time, `It's bad right now.' You just have to stay focused and keep going and doing things over and over until everything is better.''

Throughout his first 2 1/2 seasons, Graham heard comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul. The New York Giants chose Pierre-Paul two picks after Graham, and didn't have to trade any picks to get him. JPP had 16 1/2 sacks last year and played a key role in helping the Giants win the Super Bowl.

This year, though, Pierre-Paul has 6 1/2 sacks, one more than Graham has in far less playing time.

``I've just got to keep getting better because I've got a big year next year and I've got to finish strong,'' Graham said. ``Hopefully, we can pull these last two games out, so we can go in this offseason focused and ready to go.''

Notes: The Eagles signed TE Evan Moore to take backup Clay Harbor's roster spot. Harbor was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week. Moore has 63 receptions for 810 yards and five touchdowns in 47 games in four seasons with Cleveland and Seattle. ... Asked about the crowd reaction to Andy Reid, who may be coaching his last game in Philadelphia on Sunday, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said: ``Andy's got Hall of Fame numbers and really the only thing we haven't done here and he hasn't done here is win a Super Bowl. He's been to one and five NFC championships, so he's had a heck of a run. I'd expect it to be emotional. Other than that, it's a hypothetical.''


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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 24, 33 days before the NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

Free agency update: What's next for the Redskins on the D-line? The Redskins have been casting out lines for defensive linemen since before free agency officially started but they haven’t been able to reel one in. Part of the issue might be that they know that Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne are likely to be available in the draft. They have to balance spending big on a lineman vs. being able to get one pretty cheap for the next five years.

Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility—Speaking of the D-line, the team negotiated the removal of a salary guarantee for one player to give themselves more flexibility when it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 in September. See the post for details.

Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract—In the words of Joe Biden, this is a big f-----g deal. It showed that the Redskins aren’t afraid to pay a quarterback big money if they think it’s the right guy. It should be noted that whether or not they chose the right guy is something that remains to be seen. Although the post shows that it’s plausible for the Redskins to terminate the deal after three years, I anticipate Smith playing out at least four if not all five years of the contract.

Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign Scandrick—Orlando Scandrick has struggled with injuries the past few years and Redskins fans did not greet the news of his signing with great enthusiasm, to say the least. To point out the bright side, his contract is not pricey by NFL terms ($2.6 million cap hit this year, no guaranteed money beyond a $1 million signing bonus) and from what I have been able to gather it’s possible that change of scenery might give him a boost for a year or two.

Tweet of the week

Well before free agency started, I wrote that the Redskins’ top priorities in free agency should be to get extensions done for Smith, Brandon Scherff, and Jamison Crowder. They should have about $15 million to work with after a few more free agent signings and that would be plenty to get all of those extensions done. And if they do score a big free agent signing, it would be worth it to restructure the contract of someone like Ryan Kerrigan to get them done.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 23
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 124
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 169

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