Nobody really knows why defensive end Brandon Graham, who has played with a relentless energy ever since he first started logging a majority of the Eagles' defensive snaps late in the 2014 season, is finally on a path to his longtime goal of double-digit sacks. (He has seven in eight games.)
But Graham, 32, posited an interesting theory Thursday on a Zoom call with reporters. Remember how, in years past, you would see Graham work his way in the backfield, but then be unable to close the deal on a sack? Often he would get a hand on the quarterback, then stumble past, while the QB regrouped and got rid of the ball.
“I think it’s learning how to rush a lot better,” Graham said, when asked what’s different for him this season. "I was missing a lot of sacks. [I would] come in so fast, and all it takes is, a quarterback just steps up a little bit and I’m sliding off of him. I feel like I’m playing a lot faster, but the game has slowed up even more for me. I’ve been able to get there sometimes because of my teammates, sometimes because I beat the tackle, and [the sacks] have just been coming to me.
“I’m appreciative, and I’m just having fun, man, in Year 11. And I think there’s more to come.”
Graham stripped the ball from Tom Brady late in Super Bowl LII, one of the iconic moments in franchise history, but he has never been selected for a Pro Bowl. He is generating a lot of buzz this year, some of it from national media people who understand his importance to the Eagles over the last decade.
“You know what, I enjoy it as I go,” Graham said. He added that he doesn’t try to block out the talk, but “I’m not gonna go out there and just [be] reaching for plays, reaching for sacks. That’s not how it’s been coming to me, anyway. I’ve been just having fun ... doing everything within the scheme of what plays are called, and just being where I’m supposed to be.”
Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson returned from a quad injury to play Nov. 1 vs. Dallas, but sat down again after just 17 snaps. Jackson said Thursday that given the bye week to recover, he should be OK for Sunday’s game at the Giants. Jackson was listed as a full practice participant Thursday.
“I think the quad is getting better. ... I think the last time I went out there, that night game, I let it get cold, and I had a minor setback," Jackson said. "But it’s been doing very well. ... I’m very happy where it’s at, and I’m ready to get back out there.”
In addition to Malik Jackson, Alshon Jeffery (foot) and Miles Sanders (knee) were listed as full practice participants. Lane Johnson (ankle) was limited. Reserve corner Craig James (shoulder) did not practice.
Two Giants who were expected to play this week suffered setbacks in their recoveries – ex-Eagles wideout Golden Tate (knee) and running back Devonata Freeman (ankle). Their status is unclear.