Rookie defensive end Brandon Graham's role was reduced for last week's win over the 49ers with the lion's share of the reps at left defensive end going to Juqua Parker.
Graham had started each of the first four games this season. The move was made to take advantage of Parker's experience against power rushing offenses. Graham didn't get as many snaps as in previous weeks, but he made the most of them. Graham registered three tackles, two QB hurries, a sack and a forced fumble that was recovered by Quintin Mikell and returned for a touchdown.
"You always want to play as many reps as you can because you feel like you can change the game," Graham said. "I know that right now I'm trying to get back to where I was with my ankle and make sure that I can keep working hard and make as many plays as I can. The coaches deal with when I go in and go out. I don't worry about that. I make sure I take to practice what I need to work on so I can go out there a little more."
The 13th-overall pick in this year's draft earned the starting job with his advanced technique and speed off the edge. Graham also showed proficiency inside as a pass-rushing tackle. With 2.0 sacks and eight QB hurries, there's no question that Graham is effective at getting to the quarterback. But to get to the Pro Bowl level that right defensive end Trent Cole plays at, Graham has to become an all-around end. That's why the coaches want to Graham to watch the way Parker plays.
"That helped me out a whole lot, so I can see what I might have been doing wrong that JP does right," Graham said. "That's what I'm taking as a learning tool."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 3:00 p.m., October 16