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Friday, December 27, 2013
Graham prepared to face big-hitting Bucs

By Mike Triplett

METAIRIE, La. -- Defenses always try to get physical with New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are an especially hard-hitting bunch. Graham took a vicious shot from safety Ahmad Black that drew a penalty in their Week 2 meeting. And safety Dashon Goldson also drew a fine (and temporarily a suspension) for an illegal hit against running back Darren Sproles in that same game.

All told this season, Goldson has been suspended for one game and fined three times for a total of $190,000 for illegal hits -- including another one this week.

Graham said he “most definitely” has to be aware of where Goldson is on the field because he's a physical and talented player. But he said you can't “run around scared” of anybody.

Graham certainly took that approach in the Week 2 meeting, with 10 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown in New Orleans' 16-14 win at Tampa Bay.

“This game, this is a violent game, so you can't run around scared,” Graham said. “You've got to be ready for it, and that's just how he plays. He's a physical player. He's a physical and talented player. Really good at breaking on routes, mirrors well, and obviously is a ball hawk and looks to dislodge the ball and player. So it'll be a good matchup. And I'm always excited to play him, because he's very, very talented. …

“You've got to be aware of a lot of those guys on that defense. They're pretty talented across the board. If you look at them, they obviously have talented players and big, big hitters. So you definitely have to look to protect yourself. But when those plays are there to be made, you have to just sacrifice yourself sometimes. And if that's the case, then that's how it will be.”