Rookie first-round pick Brandon Graham spent most of training camp working as a pass rusher from the defensive end spot. But with the acquisition of defensive end Antwan Barnes from Baltimore, Graham got to showcase his versatility on Sunday against the Packers.
For the vast majority of his snaps, Graham was lined up at left defensive tackle on pass rush situations in the nickel defense. He didn't record a tackle, but was constantly around the ball helping to disrupt the timing of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
"Coach wanted me in there (at defensive tackle)," Graham said after the game Sunday. "That's where they feel comfortable right now …I'm down with whatever they want to do."
Graham said that he was within arm's reach of bringing Rodgers down for a sack a few times during the course of the game. As far as his overall performance goes, the 13th-overall pick is happy to put his first career start in the books.
"I think it went well, even though I wanted to go against the tackle (Mark Tauscher) because that's who I studied most of the time," Graham said. ""But man, I wish I could have got at (Rodgers) a couple of times."
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott rotated the defensive ends throughout the game, lining up guys all across the defensive line. Graham thought the strategy worked Sunday afternoon, as Rodgers seemed confused by some of the looks the Eagles threw at him.
"He didn't know where we were coming from," Graham said. "(The Packers) didn't see it coming. I think it's a good thing that we're switching it up. I like it. Whatever the coaches want to do, I'm just trying to win."
Head coach Andy Reid gave Graham a good review for his first NFL game. Reid told reporters at his Monday press conference that while Graham didn't light up the stat sheet, his contributions made life easier for the other defensive ends on the field.
"Well, you really saw Brandon go up against a really good player (in guard Josh Sitton)," Reid said. "That's probably, they have a bunch of good offensive lineman, but I think he's probably the best of the bunch and I thought he did a nice job. We were able to get that inside push where (QB) Aaron (Rodgers) couldn't step up and throw, so it gave our outside pass rushers an opportunity."
While Graham is more than happy to help his teammates, you know he'll be gunning to get his first career sack Sunday afternoon in his hometown of Detroit.
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 9:30 a.m., September 14