Ben Margot/Associated Press
At least one member of the Eagles is turning heads at OTAs not so much for what he’s done on the field but for what he’s said to reporters. On the first day full-squad practices were open to the media, Brandon Graham initially declined to speak to reporters but eventually relented.
What was on the former first-round pick’s mind, you ask? An offseason full of trade rumors, most likely. Clearly, that weighed heavily on Graham’s mind as he spoke to Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal:
"I'm controlling what I can," Graham said. "Whatever the rumors were, I really didn't pay attention to it. I have a role to play and that's play my part and try to win games." [...]
"I feel like they want me here because, shoot, I'm still here," he said. "All the rumors, whatever it is, it's just rumors. I feel like if there was something they wanted to do, I would already be gone … I know the defense, and I want to show them I really want to be here, because I love Philadelphia, I made it my home and I would be sad if I had to leave."
Graham’s first four years in the league have been star-crossed, to say the least. A torn ACL ended a promising rookie season in 2010, while a complicated microfracture surgery stemming from the injury all but erased his 2011 campaign.
By the time Graham was finally healthy in 2012, he was blocked on the depth chart by Trent Cole and Jason Babin. Then, the Eagles switched to a 3-4 defense under new head coach Chip Kelly in 2013 and signed Connor Barwin to play opposite Cole at outside linebacker.
This May, the club used a first-round pick on Marcus Smith, further indicating Graham isn’t part of the plan in Philly.
Graham really isn’t a great fit for the Birds’ scheme, which is why the rumors began swirling in the first place. He’s still there, though, so everybody has to make the best of it for now. To Graham’s credit, he’s trying to do just that, but it can’t be easy when the writing is on the wall.