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Brandon Graham Sets Sights On A Big '17

Posted May 16, 2017

He is smiling. Always smiling. Brandon Graham can light up a city block with the wattage from his smile, and as he’s relaxing at the NovaCare Complex with Organized Team Activities ahead, he wants to make something perfectly clear ...

He is smiling. Always smiling. Brandon Graham can light up a city block with the wattage from his smile, and as he’s relaxing at the NovaCare Complex with Organized Team Activities ahead, he wants to make something perfectly clear.

“I’m good, I’m happy. My focus is on winning a (Super Bowl) ring and that’s it,” Graham said. “I don’t know where all this news came from.”

The "news" that he refers to is a report last week that said Graham left the voluntary workouts in Philadelphia, returned to his native Michigan, and was “set to hold out for new contract.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Graham wants to make sure that everyone – the team, the fans, the media – knows that he is just fine where he is as an Eagle, with two years remaining on his contract.

“I will be here for the OTAs leading the charge, getting ready for the season,” Graham said. “I don’t want to cause any distraction for our team. My motto has always been, ‘With hard work comes the reward.’ My track (record) speaks for itself. I’ve always been here. I’ve never been a holdout.

“So, just to clear it up, I was just back with my family in Michigan last week. My wife needed me back there, especially with us raising a baby girl.”

This has been, Graham says, a very good offseason. He’s following up a terrific 2016 campaign in which he was named second-team All-Pro by The Associated Press and a first alternate to the Pro Bowl. Graham recorded 5.5 quarterback sacks and had a whopping 30 quarterback hurries to go along with a career-best 65 total tackles.

He was physical and relentless, just as coordinator Jim Schwartz hoped Graham would be.

And now Graham is just going about the business of ramping up his intensity and pushing himself for a huge season ahead. The defensive front got some help in the draft with first-round pick Derek Barnett coming on board, and the additions of linemen Tim Jernigan and Chris Long in free agency.

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Now, the Eagles plan on continuing the attack mode of defense that showed great improvement with Schwartz in charge.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Graham said. “We’re going to get after it. That’s what this defense Is all about. I think we’re going to be a whole lot better than last season. We’re just getting better and better.

“I was in the best shape of my life last year and it showed on the field. I’m working out with even more intensity now. I’m a leader here and the guys are looking at me to be that way on and off the field.”

So the table is set for Graham to have a big season and lead the defense. The Eagles are looking at taking the next step after a 7-9 record in 2016. Having Graham play at his very best, free of cluttered mind and heavy business decisions weighing him down, would help a lot.

He insists there are no distractions, no pestering issues. Graham met with Howie Roseman and expressed where he is at mentally. No problems. No asking for a new contact. No dissatisfaction.

“I mean, let’s go. I don’t know where any of that contract stuff came from,” Graham said. ”It never came out of my mouth and it never will. I’m going to keep working hard and playing my best football and things will take care of themselves.”

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