Eagles

Eagles

Corey Graham said he had the chance to sign with other teams. His agent talked to several suitors. His arrival in Philadelphia halfway through training camp wasn’t something that “came out of nowhere.”  

When the newest Eagle was asked why he chose to play here, he spoke without hesitation.

“[Eagles defensive coordinator] Jim Schwartz,” Graham said after his first Eagles practice Sunday at the Linc. “He allows you to really play fast. You don't gotta overthink things.”

Graham, who signed with the Eagles Thursday, started nine games at cornerback under Schwartz in Buffalo in 2014. He has played the position for most of his 10-year career. But he started every game for the Bills over the last two years at safety, and that’s where the Eagles will put him — for now. How long Graham remains there is not cemented.

His timing is not conventional for someone guaranteed a roster spot, which Graham is likely not. He said he didn’t want to sign earlier because his wife had a baby a month ago. Now, Graham finds himself as a safety competing in a secondary that has only two clear-cut starters in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, both safeties. 

Graham dodged the ideas of whether he's walked into a competition or a promised job. But with the Eagles’ lack of depth at corner and his familiarity with Schwartz, you’d have to think he has a decent chance to stick around, especially if the team values experience over potential.

 

“It helps a lot,” Graham said of his history with Schwartz. “Obviously, I was in the system for a year. I know some of the terminology and that's the biggest thing. When it comes down to the techniques and the coverages and stuff like that, football is football.”

The 32-year-old veteran split time with Terrence Brooks as the safety opposite Jaylen Watkins for limited reps with the second unit during 11-on-11 Sunday. Like all defensive backs, though, he participated in 1-on-1s with wide receivers. Schwartz said before practice that he’ll probably give Graham some “guest appearances” at corner. 

“I played it for eight years in this league. I enjoy playing corner,” Graham said. “So it's not really a big deal to me. If you've done it, you can always play corner.

“If they ask me to play it, I'll play it.”

Graham will do just about anything. Most of his experience is at corner, and Schwartz called coverage one of Graham’s strong points. But he’s played nickel. He recorded 91 tackles two seasons ago. He made the 2011 Pro Bowl on a special teams bid and said he’s willing to still be on the punt and kickoff teams.

“When you start out on special teams, it's in your heart,” Graham said. “I'll always enjoy playing special teams. It's what got me in this league. It's what made me who I am today.” 

Schwartz touted the fact Graham is a “multi-dimensional player.” His presence could allow the defense to go with more three-safety packages, something used “out of necessity” last season. Schwartz would like to do so on his own terms this year.

“He's a reliable player,” Schwartz said. “He's smart, he makes quick adjustments.”

Schwartz stressed the reliable part. Graham missed the first three games of his 2007 rookie season in Chicago but has played in every game since —157 straight. 

He’ll get a much smaller window of four preseason games to show the Eagles what they can rely on.