In just two short mini camps the Philadelphia Eagles have held so far, first round draft pick DE Brandon Graham seems to be grasping everything just fine.
He is showing a quicker burst to the ball in the second camp than he did in the first one and is also displaying improvement with his hand technique.
In this second mini camp, the Eagles defensive line coach Rory Segrest has Graham working with the first team across from third year tackle King Dunlap. The two men have gotten to know each other pretty well over the course of the two camps and will only know each other better once all camps are through.
When asked of Grahams progress, Dunlap provided a promising report saying:
"He's a first-round draft pick. You see the speed. He is very legit."
He isn't as quick off the ball as Trent [Cole] is, not yet," claimed Dunlap, who saw plenty of the Cole train in his previous two seasons with the Birds.
"He's not far behind, he's getting there. Brandon has gotten a lot better in the short time he has been here. He's using his hands better and he is so fast off the ball. I'm impressed."
To conclude, Dunlap compares the two camps and what he has noticed out of Graham from one camp to the other saying:
"The first camp we had after the draft, he was feeling his way around, so it was hard to tell. Now you see him coming off the ball, working his moves and feeling a lot more comfortable."
"He's a lot smarter and he is setting up his moves better. He has definitely gotten better, and I think he will learn from watching Trent and J.P. (Juqua Parker) play. Brandon will continue learning. He's a smart guy and he will study those players and that, combined with his talent he has, is going to make him a great player."
Obviously that's always a welcomed thing to hear about a first round pick, but I will be honest—I would rather be hearing those words from a more proven veteran like Jason Peters.
A guy who truly knows what it takes to make it in this league. Dunlap can be good in time, with his size, but he is still very much a raw talent in the NFL.
Keep in mind though he has practiced against those same players so he has played against the best of the best!
I do believe that he will prove to be a much more polished player entering his third season with the Eagles and with the stockade of quality DEs he will see in the upcoming camps, he could end up becoming regarded as a king at tackle when all is said and done.
He does have a top of the line coach in Juan Castillo showing him the ropes who I'm willing to say can turn an undrafted player into a pro bowl talent.
Brandon Graham is feeling extremely confident about his improvement since the first camp. It appears as if he has really grasped the playbook and everything line coach Rory Segrest has shown him.
He understands there is a ton of work for him in the weeks and months ahead in order for him to be NFL ready, but the important thing is he is feeling more comfortable with his abilities.
Here's what Graham had to offer on himself:
"I feel totally different from that first camp," I'm out there playing a lot faster, I'm out there voicing the calls, and I'm just happy that I'm making progress each day. I'm seeing that what coach Segrest (defensive line coach) wants me to do is working. If I do what he tells me to do, it works. I'm also learning the tackles, and King and I know each other, so that helps.
He then went on to talk about it feels to be working with the first team during the second camp saying:
"I feel like I've picked it up fast. I'm happy to be running with the ones (starters) in this camp and I'm trying to be a leader out there. It's been a great experience for me."
Trying to be a leader—every player wants to be a leader but when one is vocal about it this early in his career, it is a promising sign!
Graham went on to say:
I'm just working hard and going with it, trying to absorb everything I can," said Graham. "This is where I want to be. I have a lot of work to go here, but I'm going to do it with a smile and enjoy myself. I'm just starting out, feeling my way around. It's coming to me, and I love it."
Those are words that show ones dedication not only to the game of football but to himself as well. It shows that he has a high expectation of himself to produce plays— which should tell you as a fan that the Eagles drafted a quality player.
In other Philadelphia Eagle news, the versatile hybrid rookie Ricky Sapp is getting some reps at DE in this camp.
Sapp says that playing DE comes more naturally than LB but he is willing to do whatever is asked of him.
"Defensive end is more second nature (for me), but what I tell a lot of people is that I don't have a problem playing linebacker," Sapp said. "I can play (linebacker) and feel comfortable. It's just that I played (defensive) end all my life so I'm always going to feel comfortable playing it."
DB Marlin Jackson:
Even though Jackson was reported "gimpy" by the media after Tuesdays practice, he says he is feeling fine and had a great day of practice before those inaccurate reports came out.
DB Macho Harris:
Macho is having a great second camp where he is seeing a lot of work at his natural position, CB. Dave Spadaro of the Philadelphia Eagles website wrote:
"Macho Harris, to me, is more natural at cornerback. He is more fluid, he changes direction well and he has good instincts. We'll learn more about Harris and his ability to run with the top-echelon receivers next week when the full team works out, but through this camp he looks ready to compete for playing time at the left cornerback position ."
LB Ernie Sims:
Sims is showing great speed during this camp and has excelled in coverage packages—a very welcomed sight in Philly. If the Eagles can find ways to get him into open space, they will have a shark in the water!
T Austin Howard:
Howard is a 2010 undrafted free agent who is opening some eyes the past few days. He is a massive body (6'7", 333 lbs) who has lengthy arms and uses his feet well. It will be interesting to see if line coach Juan Castillo can turn him into a household name in the NFL.
Third RB position battle:
This is a very intriguing battle to watch in training camp. Eldra Buckley seems to be man leading the pack but CFL standout Martell Mallet and sixth round draft pick Charles Scott are both catching on very quickly.
Something in my gut tells me Scott will win this battle!
TE Cornelius Ingram:
Ingram has been a hot topic ever since he was drafted by the Eagles in the 2009 draft. He showed up to training camp more prepared than most people expected and was making a serious push, in my opinion, for the starting job before he endured another knee injury that cost him his rookie season.
He's almost a year removed from that incident and is again looking very sharp in these mini camps.
Most notably is the return of his explosive nature and confidence. Ingram reeled in a beautiful sliding catch in practice and has not shown a lack of confidence going to get the ball.