Corey Graham could have easily hung up his cleats after winning his second Super Bowl title last year as a member of the Eagles, but the 33-year-old realized how special it was to play in Philadelphia.
"This is different. This is different, man. You see the way the fans were, how loud they were out here today? It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable. It's been like that all last year, and it seems like it's up a few notches this year," said Graham following his first practice at Lincoln Financial Field after he signed a one-year deal on Sunday.
Why wait until the second week of Training Camp to rejoin the team? Fellow safety Malcolm Jenkins joked that Graham, entering his 12th NFL season, pulled a vet move. But Graham wanted to make sure he was ready.
"It's a lot of training. I've been training the past three months, so when it's all said and done, I don't want to just be out here, not doing what I want to be able to do," said Graham, who also played in Chicago, Baltimore, and Buffalo before coming to Philadelphia. "I mean I'm not coming out here, getting beat on every play and things like that. If I feel like I can't play at the level I need to play at then I wouldn't do it. When it's all said and done, I had to make sure my body was going to hold up."
It was a benefit that Graham took his time. Young safeties like Tre Sullivan received more reps and time to learn the defense.
"I think, honestly, it was good that he wasn't here over the last two weeks to get those guys some reps and some real experience against some ones (starters)," Jenkins said. "I think we'll still continue to work those young guys knowing that Corey is an experienced guy, knows the defense."
Graham had told the Eagles from the start of the offseason that he wasn't going to play for another team. It was either the Eagles or retirement. Jenkins never doubted for a second that Graham wouldn't come back.
Will Graham assume the same role that he had in 2017 - third safety in the big nickel package and core special teams player? Graham had 47 total tackles, two interceptions, and six pass deflections in 370 snaps on defense with another 10 tackles coming on special teams in the regular season. He added another 17 stops in the playoffs.
"I just want to play ball and have fun," said Graham, willing to do whatever the team asks of him.
In fact, Graham has been keeping up with the young safeties and has heard good things about Sullivan's performance.
"He's been doing great. I've been checking up to see how he's been playing, things like that. He's doing a great job, out here making plays. He's pretty much in all the positions I was in last year," Graham said.
Graham's return is another testament to the unique chemistry that the team has developed over the past couple of seasons.
The Eagles hosted their first of two public practices this Training Camp at Lincoln Financial Field on August 5. It was also Military Appreciation Night presented by Dietz & Watson.