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Brandon Graham eager to work toward his Eagles career coda

PHILADELPHIA — This will be the last football season for Brandon Graham, though not the last year he has a role with the Eagles.

The 36-year-old spilled the beans Wednesday in the middle of his 15th and final minicamp. And while the timing might have been mildly surprising, it makes all the sense in the world to keep one of the most affable Eagles of all time around to further the mission of the franchise.

“I’m going to be a part of the Eagles organization, for sure,” Graham said. “But as a player I think this will be my last little hoorah. And I’m going to enjoy it, too.”

For now, nothing is further from Graham’s mind. He wants to go out a winner, and he’s been around enough talented players and coaches to believe the edition of veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio could make this group special.

The epic collapse of the defense last season was a lesson for everyone in the organization. The Eagles didn’t just lose six of their last seven games. They were crushed, including a 32-9 rout at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild card round of the playoffs. Their second defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, got less out of the players than the demoted Sean Desai. Both were let go after the season.

“I really think that last year we just didn’t have all the right coaches in the right positions,” Graham said. “You can see the guys just truly believing in what we’ve got going on now. You just noticed little stuff last year. Certain stuff that you weren’t on the same page about. Just here and there it would pop up. But it popped up in a big way in that last game. If anything, I learned you always want to make sure that you have a proper communication.”

Fangio, who turns 66 during training camp, is your typical old-timer. It’s all about the details. Though it’s early to project what the Eagles will run when they open the season in São Paulo, Brazil, against Green Bay, it’s safe to say it will appear 10 times as sophisticated as what they did last season, when players appeared out of position, out of shape and out of touch with the scheme.

“There’s real big communication going on right now within the locker room, on the field, in the classrooms,” Graham said. “I knew Howie (Roseman) was going to get it fixed because once you noticed, he had to deal with it during the year. I don’t see none of it (the communication problems) at all. I’m excited just because we do have Fangio, somebody experienced, real good. I’m not saying anything about the past coaches. You can just tell that everybody’s on the same page about stuff now.”

Graham is a fan of the forever-changing Fangio scheme. From defensive ends that drop into zone coverage to second-level and double A-gap blitzes, Fangio is adept at keeping the opposition off balance. Already Graham sees teammates embracing the fundamentals of the base defense.

“I like it a lot,” Graham said. “I see a lot of the guys playing fast. More simplified. You see people being able to show their athleticism. Man, I’m excited for the young guys because they’re getting a real good look at what the NFL is all about.”

Rookie cornerbacks Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean have caught the eye of Graham with their speed and confidence. Safeties CJ Gardner-Johnson and Reed Blankenship could share snaps with James Bradberry, who may play three different positions. Cornerback Darius Slay is healthy, as is nickel corner/safety Avonte Maddox.

Up front, tackles Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis arrived in decent shape. Bryce Huff and Josh Sweat are the likely starting edges, and the linebacker corps has been upgraded with Devin White.

Cornerback Kelee Ringo echoed what Graham said about Fangio.

“He’s an old school coach and I definitely like that about him, for sure,” Ringo said. “He has a scheme, and he has strategies of how he coaches, and he sticks to that. And all of us are ready to buy in to that.”

The rest is up to the players. Graham is determined to do everything he can to make it work. When it’s all said and done, Graham’s 15th season will be memorable in that no player has played more with the Eagles, not even the late Chuck Bednarik, who played 14 years.

“I haven’t missed any days,” Graham said of OTAs and minicamp. “Enjoying the last little hoorah of everything I can. For this to be my last year I’m happy to go out with a team like this. Now, we’ve just got to put in the work.”


Source: Berkshire mont

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