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Graham Sets Sights High, But Taking It Slow

Because he leaves town tonight to head back for his graduation at the University of Michigan, first-round draft pick defensive end Brandon Graham has to make the most of the first day of mini-camp. And while he's trying to learn as much as possible, Graham also made sure to take a moment to recognize where he was in his first practice with an Eagles uniform on.

"I was out there kind of day-dreaming like 'Man, dang, I'm here," Graham said, "looking at my helmet, saying, 'It's here now.'

"It felt good. It felt like I'm finally part of the team now and I feel like a great day. I'm just trying to learn everything slowly, trying to make all my mistakes right now."

It actually turned out to be a pretty productive first practice for Graham, working with the second team at left defensive end, as he learned some new technique that will suit him better in the pro game.

"Everybody's trying to teach me and teach everybody so they can come along real fast because we're going to need everybody," he said. "Coming off blocks on runs, (defensive line coach Rory Segrest) wants us to stay square. Usually I come off and I have to rip off, he wants us to throw (the blocker) off and make sure you continue to be square because these running backs here will make one cut and they'll make you look crazy."

Graham acknowledged that he felt a little bit like a freshman in college on his first day of practice.

"That's what we were talking about, all the rookies," he said. "We were saying, 'You come from being a captain for your team in college and you have to come here and be a rookie all over again.'"

But Graham will have to get over that feeling quickly if he is to achieve his goal at the moment - to start on opening day.

"Oh yeah, that's the goal," he said, "and I know it's going to take little bits and pieces at a time. Today, I tried to come in and just learn as much as I can and make all my mistakes because I know everything can't happen in one day."

And while that may increase the pressure, Graham said he relishes the pressure normally heaped upon a first-round draft pick.

"I just have to live up to it," he said. "I love the pressure and that's why I'm here. That's why I play football, because I love all the pressure being on everybody. It's not just me, because I know my teammates, we all have to work together as one so we can do it together. So it doesn't bother me at all."

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:29 p.m., April 30

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