Pittsburgh fans can breath a sigh of relief - Senior RB Ray Graham removed his green jersey this week, according to CBSSports.com. The green jersey, worn by injured players and quarterbacks, was traded in for a blue one at Tuesday's practice. This will allow Graham to begin participating in more team drills going forward.
The removal of the green jersey is a positive sign for the running back, who is recovering from right knee surgery on a torn ACL he suffered last September. Graham told CBSSports.com a little about how he is feeling after practice.
"I definitely felt better today, I did every period today and it felt good. We were doing one-on-ones earlier, and I was tripped up. They weren't really trying to hit me but it was an accident, and I ended up falling on my knee. It didn't hurt at all. The more I don't think about it and just play, the more confident I get.”
How will Pitt do in the Big East this season?
Recovery is key for Graham, who has lofty expectations going into 2012, according to ESPN.com. Considered one of the top rushers in the nation last season before the game against UConn where he was injured, a healing Graham brings hope to Pitt fans as the season comes closer.
In 2011, Graham finished with 958 yards and nine TDs on 164 carries, despite his shortened season. According to the Pitt website, Graham was on a rushing pace that was second only to the Tony Dorsett's Heisman Trophy senior season in 1976 with the Panthers. These stats were what ultimately led Graham to be voted first team All-Big East by league coaches, regardless of his injury. With statistics quite like the ones he had, the running back has a lot of potential to surpass expectations as long as he heals according to plan.
Head coach Paul Chryst is confident that Graham is recovering at a good pace. As he told ESPN.com, "I thought he looked good out there, but certainly this is quite a process that he’s got to go through. He keeps progressing every day and it’s good to have him out there with us."
While it will most likely still be several weeks before Graham sees the field, it's good news for a running back that has so much left to give the Panthers. Although if the running back has it his way, he might just be in the game on September 1st against Youngstown State. At the rate he's going, that possibility is definitely there.