If Brandon Graham were still college, his season would be heading towards its close right now. Now that he's in the NFL, he's not even half-way through the grueling regular season. So is Graham heading towards the proverbial "rookie wall?" Actually, he's not heading towards it; he's already gone through it.
"Let me tell you, I hit that rookie wall about five weeks ago," Graham said, "but that bye week took it up off me. Now I'm ready. Nine more weeks, let's go."
A lot of what Graham considers hitting that rookie wall had to do with an injured ankle that he suffered in Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"It was hurting, the outside a little bit. It's still sore, but today I felt like myself again," he said. "I just didn't want to make that an excuse; I just wanted to push through it. And then once it got better, it got better. I know for sure it's better now."
Graham, the 13th overall pick in last April's draft, entered the season as the starting left defensive end. He ceded the job to Juqua Parker in Week 5, when defensive coordinator Sean McDermott wanted to increase the emphasis on stopping the run. But the Eagles rotate their defensive linemen as much as any team in the league, so Graham is still a key to the success of the defense.
"Just be in the quarterback's face," Graham said of his role, "that's what I'm trying to do. Just go out there and go 100 percent, which I know I can. I'm happy to be back."
Graham has two sacks on the season at a position where rookies rarely make an immediate impact - Graham is tied for the lead in sacks among rookie defensive ends. But with Peyton Manning across the line of scrimmage this Sunday and a lineup of quarterbacks in the second half of the season like Eli Manning, Matt Schaub and Donovan McNabb, Graham can't afford to play like a rookie.
"Right now, I just say that I have nine games to prove myself," Graham said. "That's what I'm going to do."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:15 p.m., November 6