"Brandon is on a mission," defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said of the Eagles' former first-round pick Brandon Graham. "You can ask him and he'll tell you the same thing. He's on a mission."
So just what exactly is his mission?
"The mission is just to get back on my game because I was hurt," Graham said on Friday. "I know what I can do. I'm just going out there and trying to prove to them that they didn't waste a pick."
The Eagles traded up in the first round of the 2010 draft to pick the defensive end out of Michigan with the 13th overall pick. They chose Graham over defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who was selected only two picks later by the New York Giants. Pierre-Paul has already recorded 21 sacks in his young career and earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2011.
While Pierre-Paul has been able to show what he's capable of on the NFL level, injuries have made it very difficult for the 24-year-old Graham to do the same. He ended his 2010 rookie campaign on the Injured Reserve list and began his 2011 season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Although often times unfair and unjust, the term "bust," often thrown around with high-round draft picks who don't meet their lofty expectations, has been used by some to describe Graham, despite entering only his third season in the NFL. The association of that word with Graham's name used to get to him, but not anymore.
"It used to bother me," Graham said, "but now I don't worry about it too much because I feel like everybody knows that hopefully I'm far from that because of what you see now, but it's only going to get better."
Graham said he is just trying to improve one day at a time. He added that it was "pretty cool" to have already accomplished one of his early goals for the 2012 season of being able to avoid and serious injury and participate in every practice throughout Training Camp.
"Basically, everything now is kind of settled down and it's not as fast as it was to me in the beginning," Graham said. "Now, I feel like I'm back in my college days, just ready to go out there and just put in extra work. I can think about helping my game in different areas than I (could) when I first got here."
A healthy Brandon Graham rotating in with Pro Bowl defensive ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin could be a nightmare for opposing offenses, and right now, Graham is healthy. He is on a mission to prove that he wasn't a "waste" of the Eagles' 2010 first-round pick. Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III and any other quarterback who has the pleasure of playing the Philadelphia Eagles this season, consider yourselves warned!
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider