Jimmy Graham still improving his connection with Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was asked a simple, straightforward question: What defensive back on the team gives him the most trouble when Drew Brees arches a fade route pass to the 6-foot-7 Graham in the back of the end zone?

Graham gave a quiet smile as the wheels turned in his head. He knew what he wanted to say, but he didn't quite know how to put it. As safety Malcolm Jenkins said, Graham is trying to be a little more reserved this season.

"You know what, he's a little more humble this year, I think," Jenkins said. "He exploded on the scene last year and did a lot of good things. He knows what he's capable of, and he's hungry to continue to get better. You're still going to see Jimmy get fired up. That's not going to change. That's just who he is, and we love it."

Finally, Graham answered the question, unable to hold back any longer.

"I don't know," he said. "For the most part, I'm about a foot taller than most of those guys, so there aren't a lot of defensive backs that give me a lot of trouble. It's a route that I'm very good at. Drew has very good touch, so it's very hard to defend ... and I don't know how Malcolm Jenkins is going to cover it."

Graham, however, said there are several facets of his game that he hopes to improve, including run and pass blocking and gaining more yards after the catch.
"I know I have to block better," Graham said. "I think that's going to help me with my routes, and I think that's going to help guys when I stay in and double team, when I'm showing I can push guys off the ball and be an every down tight end and play 65 snaps a game."

Graham said that Brees also pushes him to get better, on and off the field.

"This offseason, he called me a few times to see if I was working," Graham said. "He definitely is always challenging me at every moment. Sometimes, I'll be sitting in the film room with the tight ends and Drew will send another quarterback to peek his head in and tell me what I should have done on this route."
Brees said he thinks the two can improve their connection and better the 99-reception season Graham enjoyed in 2011.

"It's funny because when we're watching film, there are times when we're watching film all together, and there's times when we're separate with our coaches," Brees said. "I'll see something and it's one of those coaching points when I immediately want to run down to the tight end room and be like, 'Hey Jimmy, on this play, I'm looking for this or that.' It's progress. We're trying to take this thing to the next level."

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