In preparation of a potential work stoppage, defensive end Brandon Graham is heading to Marina Del Rey, Calif. to continue his rehab at Select Physical Therapy. The team's first-round draft pick last year showed tremendous promise before he suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the Week 14 win in Dallas.
Graham is now walking under his own power without crutches. It will still be some time before he can run, but Graham is going to do everything in his power to be ready when needed.
"It's been a tough road. Two months on crutches, I'm quite sure nobody wants to go through that," Graham said. "I know that I'm going to rehab as hard as I can and make sure I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. I'm excited just waiting to see what's going to happen. I just take it one day at a time. I'm happy to be walking."
The opening day starter at left defensive end in 2010, Graham played in 13 games and registered 19 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 13 QB hurries and forced a pair of fumbles. One of those fumbles was returned by strong safety Quintin Mikell for a touchdown in the win over the 49ers. Graham was named to the All-Rookie Team by Pro Football Focus.
Graham is one of the players who is expected to thrive in new defensive line coach Jim Washburn's system. Graham was a big fan of Washburn during the draft process a year ago and hoped to have a chance to play for him. Washburn thought that Graham was the best defensive end to come out of last year's class. Graham wants to prove that Washburn's evaluation is a correct one.
"He just wants me to play hard. And that's easy. You really have to live it. I'm going to go out there and show him that everything he talks about sinks in my head," Graham said. "It's not only for him, it's for me. This is my dream. This is what I live for and he's helping me get to where I want to go. All I have to do is play hard because they are going to cut us loose. Me and Trent (Cole), hopefully that's the duo right there."
Yes, Graham is confident that he can come all the way back from the knee injury even though his game is one of speed and explosion.
"I know my game and when it gets back, it's going to be on," Graham said. "I just can't wait to put a smile on my face because I know what I can do and I know I can help this team get over that hump. I know we can all do it together."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 12:00 p.m., March 3