Graham talks contract, blocking and more

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
1:00
PM ET
New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham touched on a handful of interesting topics when he met with the media following Wednesday’s practice. Here are the highlights:

  • Graham didn’t want to reflect too deeply on what it meant for him to sign a four-year, $40 million contract after the struggles he faced growing up, when he was abandoned by his mother into the foster care system. But it's clear that it will always be a part of who he is. “I think my background has been talked about quite a bit,” said Graham, who has spoken in-depth about the subject in the past -- including this 2011 ESPN feature -- and made it a focus of some of his charity endeavors. “For me, it was less about the money; it felt good to be wanted. It felt good to know what your future is going to be. For someone like me, that means a lot. … Sometimes you reflect, but it’s only been three weeks, I’ve been pretty busy here. But obviously I know where I came from, and I know how hard it was to get here. And so I’m going to cherish every moment of it and do everything in my power to never go back.”
  • [+] EnlargeJimmy Graham
    Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY Sports"For me, it was less about the money; it felt good to be wanted," Jimmy Graham said. "It felt good to know what your future is going to be."
    On how he has remained grounded despite rising so quickly to stardom in the NFL: “I think this offseason was a good grounding point for me, just dealing with everything by myself with only a couple of people in my corner. That will keep you real grounded, and it keeps you focused. All I did this offseason was work out and fly. I’m a simple guy. Nothing has changed. I’m still the same person I was four years ago.”
  • Graham cracked a smile while saying that people have been “knocking” his blocking in recent years. But he said it’s a part of his game he takes seriously: Yeah, the last two years, everybody’s been knocking on my blocking, I don’t know why. But you know what, I’m truly healthy now. I think that’s a big deal with that the last two years, with some major injuries that kind of limited that. And I took the time this offseason to really look at some film and analyze myself as a player. And I noticed that all of the times I was able to help the team the most was when I was blocking the best, because that helps out on play-action and it stops them from putting a corner pressed up when I’m on the line with an outside ‘backer. So it’s only going to help the team out, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
  • On how strange it was to practice without quarterback Drew Brees this past week while Brees rests his strained oblique: “Even though he’s not throwing the ball, after every route he runs up to me and tells me what he wants me to do or what I could’ve done better. He’s still getting those mental reps in. I know he’ll be just fine. He’s just taking a little time off, which he needs. It’s a long season. You’ve got 16 games and four preseason games. That’s 20, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have another three or four after that.”
  • On enjoying the amenities at the Saints’ training camp site at The Greenbrier resort, despite the floral decorations in his room: “The floral print is different, but the facilities are amazing. During the off day I had the opportunity to do the sporting clays with some of the guys and some of the Navy Seals. I just want to let it be known that I beat Drew and that I beat most of those Navy Seals. That was a good day for me.”
  • On whether it will be good to get away and play the preseason opener at the St. Louis Rams on Friday: “We’re not ready to really get away from here. The weather is beautiful, the food is good, and we’ve got great fields. I think, more or less, we’re just ready to hit somebody else. We’ve been beating up on each other for the last two weeks. Things are getting a little heated out here today, and so I think it’s time to finally hit somebody else.”

Mike Triplett

ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter

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