Jimmy Graham slowly earns Saints' trust

NEW ORLEANS — When Jimmy Graham didn't cut in the face of his defender Sunday at the Superdome, he made Saints quarterback Drew Brees look like a fool.

Four plays after Houston free safety Danieal Manning's interception that stemmed from Graham's "quick memory lapse," the Texans took a nine-point fourth-quarter lead. But instead of admonishing his young tight end by unofficially removing him from the game plan, Brees called on 80 over and over.

Graham responded, in part because he's a talented, imposing figure, but more likely because of how the Saints and Brees handled Graham's misstep.

"After the play, Drew came to the sideline and told me, 'I'm going to keep coming to you, because I trust you,'" Graham said. "He told me he had faith in me. That meant a lot to me especially being a young player (24)."

Unfazed and encouraged by Brees' vote of confidence, Graham caught three passes in the final 10 minutes, including a 27-yard touchdown to spark a franchise-record 23-point fourth quarter and 40-33 comeback victory.

The massive NFL sophomore out of the University of Miami hauled in a pair of passes during the Saints' 93-yard game-winning drive, the last coming when the Saints faced third-and-10 near midfield with less than 3 minutes remaining.

"I'm going to turn that ball loose 100 out of 100 times to Jimmy Graham," said Brees, who hit Graham for 28 yards on what turned out to be his final completion of the ballgame.

Graham stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 260 pounds, so it didn't take long for the Saints to realize the potential of their third-round selection in last year's draft. A month after the 2010 season ended, New Orleans released veteran tight end Jeremy Shockey, a fan favorite and the man who caught the go-ahead score in the Saints' Super Bowl victory.

"All of us, himself included, think (Graham) is a special player," Saints head coach Sean Payton said.

After snatching five touchdowns in limited action last season, Graham already has 14 catches for 235 yards and a pair of scores this year.
"There's a lot of times and a lot of details that go into the passing game," Brees said. "As long as my guy does what he's supposed to, the ball's going to be there."

Although Graham still has room to work out the kinks and Brees will continue to aim to improve the chemistry by "working together," big things can be expected throughout the process.

"Jimmy is a young player who's continuing to grow," Brees said. "The sky's the limit for him. I love the fact we can have something happen on the field that's negative, and instead of him getting down, he comes back and makes a couple of huge catches. That tells me a lot about Jimmy Graham the person. He wants me to be able to trust him and have the utmost confidence in him, which I do."

Click here to order Jimmy Graham’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share
blog comments powered by Disqus