2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Surging Saints TE Graham a big concern for Miami

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-29 12:22

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Jimmy Graham insists he isn't miffed about his lack of a contract extension, even as his highlight-reel catches and gaudy statistics put him on track to be one of the best tight ends the NFL has seen.

Then again, if Graham were angry, it might not be such a bad thing for the New Orleans Saints.

Graham, who'll seek a third-straight 100-yard receiving game when New Orleans (3-0) hosts the Miami Dolphins (3-0) on Monday night, says he thrives on anger on the field. That would explain the force of nature he's resembled in the Saints' air attack since Tampa Bay's attempts to intimidate him backfired so badly a couple weeks ago.

``If somebody hits me big, you can probably tell I'm probably jabbering a few things back at him, telling him that, `I'm going to be here all day,''' the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Graham said. ``I find it as a challenge and I invite all of it. ... It gets me angry, which is good.''

In helping the Saints to victories over the Buccaneers and Cardinals in Weeks 2 and 3, Graham made 19 catches for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Much of that production came after Graham was folded backward on a penalized blast to his head by Tampa Bay's Ahmad Black.

What looked at first like a knockout blow produced an opposite result. Now, stopping Graham has become the problem of another Florida team.

``His production over the last two weeks has been off the charts,'' Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. ``He obviously has great size and weight. He seems to be a natural running down the field and going up and catching the ball. He can catch the ball in traffic. He can catch the ball when he gets hit. He has excellent concentration and hands. His size and length are an issue, and it's a concern when you go play him.''

Many Miami sports fans are familiar with Graham's character and toughness. He was abandoned as a child before being adopted by a woman who counseled Graham's youth group at a North Carolina church. The stability his adoptive mother provided helped him earn a basketball scholarship to Miami. He was a physical power forward, and now offers a self-effacing smile while describing himself as a player who had more fouls than points.

He thrived as a student and athlete at Miami, and Hurricanes fans, including university president and former Clinton cabinet member Donna Shalala, held him up as an inspiration. Football coaches saw his ability to run the floor and grab rebounds, and figured he'd make a great tight end. He gave it a shot in 2009, his final year of NCAA eligibility, and Saints scouts weren't the only ones who noticed.

He could have become a Dolphin if Saints coach Sean Payton hadn't taken Graham off the market in the third round of the 2010 draft. Payton's mentor and former boss, Bill Parcells, was an executive with Miami at the time and had his eye on Graham.

``I do remember 30 seconds after the selection, getting a phone call from Parcells,'' Payton said, adding he could tell Graham was someone Parcells targeted. ``That makes you feel good, rather than him saying, `What did you take him for?' To Jimmy's credit, he's come in and his transition has been fairly quick with maybe the lack of experience that a lot of players would have in college.''

Since 2011 (including playoffs) Graham leads NFL tight ends with 219 catches for 2,808 yards, and leads NFC tight ends with 27 TDs. His numbers might have been even better if not for a wrist injury that led to what would be considered a down year by Graham's standards in 2012: 85 catches, 982 yards, nine TDs.

``It feels good to be healthy. I can't lie about that,'' Graham said. ``This offseason is the hardest that I've worked in not only rehab but just on little things - you know - film room. But I think more than anything, I'm playing with more emotion than I ever have.''

The Saints want to lock down Graham long term, but general manager Mickey Loomis tends to be a deliberate and patient negotiator. The Saints could use the franchise tag to prevent Graham from leaving.

Graham could have held out, but noticed a collective sense of purpose at Saints headquarters as Payton returned from his 2012 bounty ban, and he wanted to be part of it. And like quarterback Drew Brees in 2011, Graham has faith the Saints will ultimately treat him right.

``For me, it really is all football,'' Graham said. ``I'm a very hungry player right now.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Patrick PetersonJul 28 04:01p

Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson will be used strictly on defense this season and will not see time in any offensive situations. The Cardinals have excess capacity at wide [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJul 28 03:42p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) has a bone bruise, according to head coach Ron Rivera. There is swelling in the knee but nothing is structurally damaged.

Lamar MillerJul 28 03:37p

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller will be used much like Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy was last season. That means he should see quite a few passes headed his [ More ]

Ndamukong SuhJul 28 03:32p

Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh's contract extension discussion will be put on hold until the end of the season, according to a source.

Odell Beckham Jr.Jul 28 03:12p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) missed practice Monday, July 28, to receive treatment for his injured hamstring. Head coach Tom Coughlin said Beckham probably has some tests scheduled for the hamstring.

Ryan WilliamsJul 28 03:02p

Dallas Cowboys RB Ryan Williams looks to be a longshot for the final roster, because he is not a good special teams player and would have to help on [ More ]

M. BernadeauJul 28 02:43p

Dallas Cowboys OG Mackenzy Bernadeau has been working at left guard with the first-team offense, because OG Ronald Leary (hamstring) has been dealing with a hamstring injury. Bernadeau and [ More ]

Dan WilliamsJul 28 02:22p

Arizona Cardinals DT Dan Williams (knee) is not expected to participate in practice Monday, July 28, but the team does not believe his knee injury is serious.

Everette BrownJul 28 02:22p

The Washington Redskins have signed free-agent LB Everette Brown (Cowboys). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

B. RoethlisbergerJul 28 02:02p

The Pittsburgh Steelers are confident that they will be able sign QB Ben Roethlisberger before his current contract expires, according to general manager Kevin Colbert. Colbert said he expects [ More ]

Anthony GaitorJul 28 01:42p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed free-agent CB Anthony Gaitor (Dolphins) and undrafted free-agent DT Jibreel Black (Michigan). Terms of the contracts were not disclosed, but all contracts signed [ More ]

Alshon JefferyJul 28 01:32p

Updating a previous report, Chicago Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (foot) left practice early Monday, July 28, because of a sore foot.

Matt CasselJul 28 01:23p

Minnesota Vikings QBs Matt Cassel, Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder have been evenly splitting reps during the early part of training camp, according to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Turner [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJul 28 01:23p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin's (knee) left knee injury isn't expected to be serious, and head coach Ron Rivera is optimistic that Benjamin won't miss much time. Benjamin is [ More ]

Adrian PetersonJul 28 01:12p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson does not need to play in the preseason to show something to the coaching staff, according to head coach Mike Zimmer. Zimmer said Peterson [ More ]

Golden TateJul 28 01:12p

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate (shoulder) was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, July 28, and he is expected to take part in the team's first [ More ]

Frank GoreJul 28 12:53p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore is unlikely to play in the preseason this year. RBs Carlos Hyde and Jewel Hampton have both looked good so far during training [ More ]

Trent ColeJul 28 12:42p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy and LB Trent Cole squared off in a fight during training camp Sunday, July 27. 'Next thing you know, they're on the ground scuffling,' [ More ]

Charles JohnsonJul 28 10:13a

Cleveland Browns WRs Charles X. Johnson (knee) and Travis Benjamin (knee) are riding the stationary bike and working on the side Monday, July 28.

Micah HydeJul 28 10:03a

Green Bay Packers FS Micah Hyde has the edge over S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for the starting free safety spot.

Ray RiceJul 28 09:52a

Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice did not appeal his two-game suspension.

Kenny StillsJul 28 09:32a

New Orleans Saints WR Robert Meachem (back) and WR Kenny Stills (quadriceps) are out of practice Monday, July 28.

Chris RaineyJul 28 08:52a

The Indianapolis Colts released RB Chris Rainey.

Mike IupatiJul 28 04:02a

The San Francisco 49ers plan to re-sign RG Mike Iupati at some point. Originally the team thought it would not be able to keep him due to a higher [ More ]

Tim HightowerJul 28 03:22a

Former Washington Redskins RB Tim Hightower, who suffered a torn ACL in 2011 and a subsequent infection, was spotted at Washington Redskins camp in the past few days. Hightower [ More ]

Alan BonnerJul 28 12:52a

The Houston Texans have waived injured WR Alan Bonner (foot). Bonner suffered a broken foot during practice Saturday, July 26.

Russell OkungJul 28 12:22a

Seattle Seahawks OT Russell Okung (foot) is about two weeks away from returning to practice, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Terrell McClainJul 28 12:02a

Dallas Cowboys DT Terrell McClain (ankle), LB DeVonte Holloman (dehydration) and FS Matt Johnson (hamstring) left practice early Sunday, July 27, because of injuries.

Koa MisiJul 27 11:52p

Miami Dolphins LB Koa Misi (foot) left practice early Sunday, July 27, because of a foot injury. He has told people that someone stepped on his foot and that he will be fine.

Dre KirkpatrickJul 27 11:02p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring) did not participate in practice Sunday, July 27, because of an apparent hamstring injury. The injury is not expected to keep him out for long.

D.J. HaydenJul 27 10:32p

Oakland Raiders CB D.J. Hayden (foot) still has no definite timetable for his return, but the team is optimistic that he will be ready for the start of the [ More ]

Kyle RudolphJul 27 10:32p

The Minnesota Vikings have signed TE Kyle Rudolph to a five-year extension worth $36.5 million.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group