Eagles’ Brandon Graham in Best Shape of Life, Vows Double-Digit Sacks

Brandon Graham

Getty Eagles DE Brandon Graham tallied a career-high three sacks in one last year versus the Jets.

Brandon Graham is hoping to make good on a promise from a year ago. If he does, opposing quarterbacks better watch out.

The Eagles top pass rusher recorded 8.5 sacks last season (including three in one game versus the Jets), or 1.5 knockdowns away from his stated preseason goal. Graham went on record saying he wanted to register double-digit sacks in 2019. Now the 32-year-old has put the league on notice that those extra sacks are “coming fast” in the near future. Translation: Graham is targeting 2020 to top his career-high of 9.5 sacks from 2017.

“Man, let me tell y’all, I done felt the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Graham told reporters on Sunday. “I’m not having no nagging injuries right now, hopefully, we keep it that way, man, I feel like my goal of double-digit sacks is in the near future and it’s probably going to come fast. That’s how I feel.”

The Eagles’ entire defensive line should feel rejuvenated after the team added Vinny Curry to the room. The hometown kid was their most improved player in 2019 and a big part of the Super Bowl championship puzzle from three years ago. Curry’s big-game experience and proven leadership — not to mention, his comforting smile in the defensive huddle — should make the unit unstoppable.

“I feel real good about the position,” Graham said of the defensive ends. “Vinny coming back, that’s more experience in there. He won a Super Bowl with us, so he knows what it takes and what Doug’s mentality is every year. You feel good about the up and coming guys, like Josh Sweat, I know he’s working his butt off every day, and Derek Barnett who is trying to have a standout year. I’m not worried about the position at all.”

The Eagles received 25.5 total sacks out of their defensive ends in 2019: Graham (8.5), Barnett (6.5), Curry (5.0), Sweat (4.0), along with Daeshon Hall (1.0) and Genard Avery (0.5). The defense registered 43 total sacks.

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Graham Extra Motivated After Tough Offseason

It’s been a rough offseason for the Detroit native who watched three different family members battle COVID-19, including losing two aunts to the novel coronavirus.

Graham lost his grandmother’s sister (on his father’s side) to the virus, then watched his dad’s friend’s wife — a close friend to the family who was considered an aunt — fall victim o the unforgiving disease. Amid all the heartbreak and personal loss, Graham said he never considered opting out or not playing this year. The aging veteran can’t afford to.

“Me and my wife [Carly] talked about it for a second and we talked about us just not living in fear,” Graham said. “We know that things have happened in our family and this thing caught us off guard but once we kind of talked about it and me going into Year 11 I really can’t afford to take a year off if I can help it.”

The idea of not living in fear is something that Graham has stressed going back to the spring. He has put his full trust in the NFL and the Eagles’ organization to keep everyone safe. The one potential pitfall could be in how Graham gets “lathered up” on gamedays since he’s a guy that seems to feed off crowd energy. Not to worry, the Michigan product just needs to look at the jerseys on the other sideline to get hyped up.

“Man, I’m hype right now. I’m telling you it don’t take nothing,” Graham said as he looked into the camera on a recent Zoom call with his mask on and screamed. “I can look at you and tell you’re the enemy and I’m telling you, man, I’m talking to whoever out there. When I see that jersey, it don’t matter. Fans or no fans, I’m going at ’em.”

Graham Rested His Aging Body in Unusual Offseason

The weird offseason and abbreviated training camp may help the older veterans on the team, guys like Graham who don’t necessarily need the extra reps. He was able to focus more on diet and nutrition, cardiovascular workouts and just letting his body rest a little bit. And he feels like he’s in the best shape of his life.

“Man, I feel good right now. I’m excited,” Graham said. “I was able to let my body rest in a way it never had a chance to. I learned a lot during this time about my body and then I learned a lot about how much we do really do certain things and why certain things are in place.”

He’s also extremely excited about playing alongside newcomer Javon Hargrave, the former Steelers nose tackle with 14.5 career sacks. His presence on the interior of the defensive line should make Graham’s job a lot easier.

“Hargrave, man, he’s fast off that ball,” Graham said. “You know, if somebody hits the inside moving like that, watch out. I’m excited for things to come, especially seeing him in Pittsburgh and they run like a 3-4 [defense] and he’s not able to come off as fast as he’s been able to come off in our defense. I think he’s a great fit.”

Graham is also anxious to see what Malik Jackson can do in his first full year on the team. Remember, the one-time Pro Bowl player missed 15 games in 2019 after suffering a season-ending foot injury.

“I think Malik definitely has that chip on his shoulder, too,” Graham said. “To go out there and prove what he can do because his playing time got cut short last year. All I got to do is do my part on the outside and I believe them boys in the inside are going to help us and we’re all going to work well together.”

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