Jimmy Graham earns historic honor

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham continues to raise the bar for the tight end position.

Graham was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Month on Thursday -- the first time a tight end has been so honored in either conference since the NFL started the award in 1986.

Graham caught 27 passes for 458 yards and six touchdowns in four September victories.

"He's a big target. He's extremely athletic. He's got this fire and passion and will to succeed and to work at it. He wants to be great. That's all you want in a teammate and in a target," quarterback Drew Brees said of Graham on Wednesday. "A lot of times you take a player and it's like, 'OK, these are his strengths, but then he's got these weaknesses that we're going to stay away from and we're just going to try to utilize the strengths.' You then encounter certain players like Jimmy Graham and you just say, 'OK, this guy has the ability to have all strengths and no weaknesses.'

"He's not there yet, but he is far outweighed on the strength side than on the weakness side. You can sit there and say, 'Well, there's just not much that we can't do with this guy.' That's a good thing."

Graham ranks second in the NFL in receiving yards, behind only Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (481), and he is tied for the lead in touchdown receptions with Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Graham is one touchdown shy of tying the league record for touchdown catches by a tight end through his team's first five games -- a mark shared by Antonio Gates (2010) and Mike Ditka (1963).

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