In February, Brandon Graham won a ring. In the six months since, he’s gotten in one.
Graham said Monday he’s been doing some sparring as he rehabs from postseason ankle surgery.
Graham, who had a career-high 9½ sacks last year, returned to practice Monday after spending the last three weeks on the Eagles' physically unable to play reserve list (see story).
“Boxing is real good, especially with using my hands,” he said. “I always do that during the offseason. Always focus on my hands, because as a D-lineman that’s our goal, you’ve got to use your hands in everything.
“So while I’ve been hurt I’ve just been trying to work on my coordination and make sure everything stays tight.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Graham will be limited for a while here as he works off the rust.
"There are steps he's got to take along the way,” Schwartz said. “This is an important step getting back on to practice with his teammates. Probably be limited to just some individual stuff and we'll sort of work him along. But it is great to have him back.”
Graham won’t play against the Browns Thursday night and almost certainly won’t play against the Jets in the preseason finale a week later.
All he’s got on his mind is the Falcons on Sept. 6.
“All I can say is when I do start hitting people, I’m going to be so sore, but then you’ve got to work through that soreness like we always do and eventually that starts to become your armor and you build on that,” he said.
“I’m excited. Just excited to be back out there with the boys. It’s been hard standing back because you don’t want to feel behind. I don’t feel like I’m behind but they got a lot more reps than I got, so I’m just trying to catch up.
“Everybody knows when it’s time to go it’s going to be time to go. I’m just excited. We’re all excited because it’s the first step.”
Graham, who had the legendary strip-sack of Tom Brady in the closing minutes of the Super Bowl, said his ankle is fine, it’s just a matter of conditioning at this point.
“I’m not going to make any promises, but I’m working my butt off every day,” he said. “Putting money in the bank every day.”
Graham has missed only one game since opening day of 2012, and that was the meaningless season-ender last year against the Cowboys.
Only four defensive ends — Jerry Hughes, Cameron Jordan, Julius Peppers and Ndamukong Suh — have played more games (96, obviously) over the last five seasons.
“I’m really just focused on Week 1 right now and focus on today and how everything goes,” said Graham, now 30.
“I feel like I can get myself ready for Week 1, for sure, because I’m already doing two-a-days and sometimes two-a-days. It’s on me to make sure I continue to get my shape up and that’s just running and doing drills and pushing and pulling on people.
“I think as I continue to feel better, I’m going to continue to go harder. I’m just excited because now I can start counting down the days. I’ve got 17 days to get right.”