Jimmy Graham on pace to break Kellen Winslow's 31-year-old record for receiving yards

Drew Brees isn't the only player on the New Orleans Saints making NFL history this year. His new favorite target, tight end Jimmy Graham, is within striking distance of some all-time receiving records of his own.

With 1,171 receiving yards this year, Graham is on pace for 1,338, which would be the most by a tight end in NFL history, breaking the mark of 1,290 set by Kellen Winslow in 1980. However, Graham also needs to hold off New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is on pace for 1,304 yards this year.

Graham also has a shot at Tony Gonzalez's NFL record of 102 receptions by a tight end, set in 1994. Graham has 87 catches with two games remaining, putting him on pace for 99.4.

Even though Graham knew he had the opportunity for a breakout year in his second NFL season, he admitted that those numbers and records are mind-blowing.

"Definitely," said Graham, who also has nine touchdown catches this year. "You know, being so young and it happening so quickly, I mean obviously it's been a pretty special year. But the records, I don't even think about 'em. It's honestly, I know we've got a big Monday night game coming up, and I honestly don't even know what my stats are.

"For me, I just move on to the next one, and all I can think about is that fumble (in the first quarter last week at Minnesota)."

That miscue was rare. It was the first lost fumble of Graham's career. But even when he has dropped a pass or run the wrong route in the past, Graham has routinely made up for it with a positive-impact play or two.

Heading into this season, knowing he'd have a chance to be the Saints' full-time starter, Graham said one of his biggest goals was to "make an impact play every game."

When making that list of goals, though, Graham said he never really thought about specific numbers like 100 catches or 1,300 yards.

"One of my biggest goals individually was I remember saying I would love to make it to a Pro Bowl," said Graham, who can already book that ticket to Hawaii by this point. "To me, that kind of summed up what kind of year it must have been, including maybe catches and yards and stuff like that. But for me it really hasn't been a focus. It's just been about being healthy for the next one."

The most remarkable thing about Graham's historical pace is that he is playing for an offense that spreads the ball around to so many different playmakers. In fact, no skill position player has made the Pro Bowl for the Saints since Brees and Coach Sean Payton arrived in 2006 - a fact that is certain to change when Graham gets there this year.

Of course everything Graham has accomplished this year is even more amazing considering he's still relatively new to the game. He played just one year of college football after playing four years of basketball at Miami. Then he caught 31 balls for 356 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie for the Saints last year.

Still, Brees said he's not surprised by the numbers Graham is racking up this year. After all, he witnessed another former basketball player, Antonio Gates, emerge into an instant force at tight end with the San Diego Chargers earlier in the decade.

"I've been around a guy that, in particular, you kind of felt like, 'Hey man, if everything works out the way it's supposed to, this guy can be something special.' I definitely feel that way about Jimmy," Brees said. "I couldn't be happier for a guy for where he's come from and where it all started from him (with a difficult upbringing as a child) and where he's at now and where he still has left to go. You just say, man, it's pretty awesome."

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