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Graham Vows To Return Vs. Dallas

The Eagles defensive line is on a tear.

Through three games, they have a total of 12 sacks, one behind the league-leading Dallas Cowboys. Eleven of those sacks belong to the Eagles' top three pass-rushers: Trent Cole, Jason Babin, and Cullen Jenkins. Amazingly, the Eagles have blitzed only 18.9 percent of the time this season on pass plays, nearly half as frequently as they did all of last season, when they blitzed on 39.2 percent of pass plays.

With all the talent along the defensive line, it's easy to forget that the Eagles have last year's 13th-overall pick in the draft, Brandon Graham, waiting to come off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list in less than three weeks. The 268-pound defensive end, who tore his ACL last season, says that he'll be ready to come in and contribute as soon as he's eligible to do so.

"I'm feeling good," Graham said. "I would be playing right now, if I weren't listed on the PUP list. I know how the rules go and we're going to talk it over with the training staff and see what they want me to do when I get off the list."

The NFL's PUP rules state that a player who does not participate in any training camp practices because of injury can be placed on the six-week injured reserve. A player on the PUP list can attend meetings and use the team's workout facility without counting against the 53-man roster.

Beginning Tuesday, October 18, Graham can begin practicing with the Eagles who have three weeks (until Tuesday, October 8) to decide whether they want to activate the player or place them on season-ending Injured Reserve. During those three weeks, Graham cannot appear in a game unless he is taken off the PUP list and placed on the active roster. 

On the week of October 17, the Eagles will be going into a bye. Traditionally, Andy Reid gives the team that week off, but it would be difficult to imagine Graham taking the break after spending 10 months rehabbing from knee surgery. The second-year end has been preparing for this moment with unwavering tenacity.

"I know this defense inside-out," Graham confidently said. "I pay attention every day, I go over it with myself, and I talk to (defensive line coach Jim Washburn). The scheme isn't really that complicated. He just wants you to give effort and come off the snap hard. And when you come off like that, you'll be able to stop the run and just react. That's what I'm good at, reacting.

"When I played in the Senior Bowl, we ran this same wide-nine defensive front. I feel like it's a great fit for me because it really makes the most of the way I play. I come off every play like it's my last and I'm always just trying to get to the quarterback."

Graham's impressive career at Michigan and his showing in the 2010 Senior Bowl, in which he was named MVP after racking up three tackles-for-loss, two sacks, and a forced fumble in limited time, was enough for then-Titans, now-Eagles, defensive line coach Jim Washburn to rank Graham as the top pass-rusher in that year's draft. Now, Washburn will get to see what Graham can do in midnight green for the first time since being hired by the club in January.

The 6-2 end is aching to get back on the field, and wants, more than anything, to be able to play against the division-rival Cowboys, who are the Eagles' first opponent after Graham becomes eligible to come off of the PUP list. Having suffered his knee injury in the Eagles' win over Dallas last December, it would be special for the speed rusher if he were to came back and have a big game against the Cowboys.

"Three more weeks and I'll be back in the next game against Dallas," Graham assured. "I'm not missing that game."

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