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Brandon Graham embraces new role on dominant Eagles defense

Ralph Vacchiano

NFC East Reporter

There are times when Brandon Graham sees highlights of himself from years ago and he knows that time has caught up to him. He can tell there are plays he used to make in his prime that he just can’t make today.

“I know I’m not the guy I was early on,” the Eagles veteran defensive end said. “Man, when I see certain plays (from) back then I look a lot faster. And I wasn’t letting these quarterbacks beat me around the edge on these dang zone reads.”

Some things, though, get better with age. And while at age 34, and in his 13th NFL season, Graham might not look like the player he was, he’s become remarkably more productive. Just 16 months removed from a torn Achilles that many thought would end his career, Graham is coming off a career-high 11 sacks during the regular season, plus another in the divisional playoff round last Saturday night.

And as the Philadelphia Eagles (15-3) prepare for the NFC Championship game Sunday (3 p.m. ET on FOX) against the San Francisco 49ers (15-4), Graham is one of the leaders of the NFL’s best pass rush. He’s also on a roll with nine sacks in his last nine games.

That’s not bad for a guy who thinks his best days are behind him, and who has become a part-time player on his team.

“But I do feel like I’m still pass rushing the same, still being dominant in the run game,” Graham said. “And really (I’m) just enjoying being the leader for the guys. Because coming off the bench I can see a lot. I try to be the shining light for them guys, as far as making sure they keep elevating their game and that they know what we see on the sideline.

“I just enjoy my role on this team. My role has been great this year. It’s been fun.”

That’s the attitude that Graham has embraced ever since he returned to the field in training camp this summer. He was taught a hard lesson last year when he tore his Achilles in a Week 2 loss to the 49ers that, especially at his advancing age, every play could turn out to be his last.

And…


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Publish date : 2023-01-25 20:45:19

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