With health troubles limiting him to 16 games over his first two seasons in the NFL, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham has acknowledged that he's a "bust," a label that he's going to use as motivation heading into the 2012 season.
"Right now, I'm a bust, so I'm going to deal with that," Graham said, according to Jonathan Tamari of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I'm a bust, and I'm going to keep being a bust. Even when I make plays, I'm going to still act like I'm a bust. You know what I'm saying?"
The Eagles selected Graham with the 13th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, which came with a $16.863 million contract that included $13.552 million in guarantees. Graham started six of 13 games as a rookie and posted three sacks before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament that required micofracture surgery, causing him to begin the 2011 season on the physically unable to perform list. Activated in November, Graham played in three games and recorded four tackles.
According to Tamari, Graham has shed 20 pounds (so that he now weighs 265), and time has made him more confident in his knee.
"It's been a whole year since I've been out there (as) confident as I am today, and all I can do is just take it one day at a time, one practice at a time, and that's what I'm doing. Today went pretty well," Graham said Tuesday. "I felt real good. ... Now I don't really think about my knee as much as I did coming back, because that's what I was doing a lot, I was favoring it."
A healthy Graham would give the Eagles one of the deepest groups of defensive ends in the league. Jason Babin is coming off a second consecutive Pro Bowl season and Trent Cole received a $48.525 million extension in March. The Eagles also have Darryl Tapp (2.5 sacks while playing fewer than 30 percent of the snaps last season) and used a second-round pick on Vinny Curry, who posted 23 sacks in his final 25 games at Marshall.