#SalPalEaglesCamp: Why Brandon Graham “Was Like a Cage-Up Lion” This Week

Lost in all the public angst over the uncertain return of Carson Wentz was the very good news of the return of defensive end Brandon Graham to the practice field and, thus, the real possibility of being a part of the defensive line rotation against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL season opener on Sept. 6 in South Philly.

Graham, in his 10th season out of Michigan, was general manager Howie Roseman’s first real draft pick. Roseman recommended that former head coach Andy Reid move up in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft to take Graham. The payoff, a long time coming, was Graham collecting a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2018 and then the most memorable play in franchise history – the strip sack of Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

Getting Graham back from an ankle injury that kept him sidelined all spring and most of the summer was certainly an emotional lift for the Eagles defense, which is looking to rebound from an overall poor performance against Brady and the New England Patriots offense – both in the Super Bowl and Week 2 of the 2018 preseason.

How much will Graham play against the Falcons?

“Well, a lot of it’s just going to depend on him,” said defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. “We were able to get him back on the practice field. He was like a caged-up lion or something. He just had so much energy out there yesterday. But how he responds coming back on a day, coming back on two days, what the trainers think, what the doctors think, and then with us, how we think he can perform, all of that will go into what it looks like: whether he’s going to play; whether he’s not; the number of plays.”

Schwartz reiterated the Eagles expect a lot from their defensive linemen. “The defensive line is the engine that drives this defense,” he said. “We rotate players up front and we expect them to come in and give us a lot of energy. We expect them to be able to win in pass-rush without blitzing and penetrate and make things happen against the run. Brandon does all of those things – he’s a really important guy.”


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