Defensive end Brandon Graham says he is "ahead of schedule" in his recovery from offseason ankle surgery, but there is "no timetable" for his return to the field. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the game against Oakland on Christmas Night and gutted it out through the Super Bowl-winning postseason.
"I had to do what I had to do," Graham said at his NovaCare Complex locker on Thursday afternoon. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience playing in the playoffs trying to make a run with the team we had. All I did was kind of grind it out. I'm paying for it, but not like I'm paying for it missing time during the season. It's just something that I have to deal with and overcome."
Graham said the "number one thing is to be ready by Week 1" of the regular season. He is six weeks into what is projected to be a 12-week recovery after surgery to "clean out" his ankle after the high sprain.
In retrospect, what Graham was able to do in the postseason was pretty remarkable. A high ankle sprain can set players back for months, but Graham was able to persevere and play well in the postseason. He, of course, came up with a huge play in the Super Bowl, stripping New England quarterback Tom Brady of the football and forcing a turnover that the Eagles turned into three key points in the fourth quarter of the 41-33 victory.
"I've watched that play, I don't know, 100 times?" Graham said, laughing. "I just know that doing what we did, with this group of guys, and doing it for Eagles fans in this city, that's what it's all about. It's been special. The surgery, you know, nobody wants to go through that, but at the same time it's football, and you're going to have these kinds of things happen. I feel great now. I'm working on other things, and I'm going to be stronger and better when I come back."
And when he comes back, he'll join a defensive line that has a new look, with tackle Haloti Ngata and end Michael Bennett bringing experience, production, and great depth. The Eagles lost tackle Beau Allen in free agency and released Vinny Curry (who signed with Allen in Tampa Bay) and were aggressive in free agency to make a strong group even stronger.
"Those guys have won, and they know how to come up big in the season and in the playoffs," Graham said. "It's going to be fun. We're going to pin our ears back and get after it. Training Camp, boy, it's going to be competitive. We're going to be sharp for the season."