Baltimore Ravens cornerback Corey Graham got defensive this week when discussing his journey from part-time player with the Chicago Bears to playoff hero after picking off Peyton Manning in Saturday's thrilling double overtime win over the Denver Broncos.
"Lovie Smith, he loved what I did as a special teamer and that's what he wanted from me, no matter what," Graham said, via USA Today. "So I could go out and practice, get six interceptions at corner, but no matter what I was going to be Corey Graham, special teamer."
Graham spent his first five seasons in Chicago, where he started just 10 games, nine of them in 2008. He has started the past 10 games for the Ravens, who were decimated by injuries in the secondary this season. Graham's two-interception performance propelled the Ravens into Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots.
To be fair to Smith, the two were stacked behind some talented players in Chicago -- Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings -- and neither was a starter in Baltimore when the 2012 campaign started.
What Graham's story displays is that every season there are players who step up when given a chance, and who end up playing a pivotal role in some of the season's biggest games.
Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.