Skip to main content

Bucs call on 'Insurance' Graham to spark the run vs. Bears

BAGSHOT, England -- Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris has a nickname for running back Earnest Graham.

"We call him 'Insurance' Graham for a reason," Morris said of Graham, a player who has a knack for filling whatever needs the team has.

There's a good chance that reason will be clear to everyone when the Buccaneers face the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Graham usually does his work quietly and in the background: blocking for LeGarrette Blount, taking some third-down carries and providing veteran leadership on special teams. Right now, though, the team needs him to grab the spotlight for once.

Graham is coming off his biggest game in three years after filling in for the injured Blount and rushing for 109 yards in a 26-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints -- surpassing his total yardage for all of 2010.

Blount has yet to practice with the Bucs in London this week, meaning the 31-year-old Graham is likely to again be called upon to carry the running game in the fifth edition of the NFL's annual regular-season game in the British capital.

Even for an eight-year veteran who is among the most respected players on his team, it's nice to get a chance to show a wider audience that he can still play a major role.

"When you don't show up in the stat lines and those types of things, I think it's hard for people to understand your value," Graham said Thursday after the team's second practice in Britain. "But my value has always been that I can play multiple positions at a very high level."

Just ask Morris, who often raves about Graham's unselfish attitude and presence in the locker room.

"His veteran leadership is -- you can't even talk about it, you can't even (praise) it enough," Morris said. "He's preparing to be the lead dog guy again (this Sunday). We've seen him do that before. We've seen him do it for a season, we've seen him do it at different spots at different times of a year. He's the best guy to do it for you."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.