Make Or Break Year for Brandon Graham

Eagles' Brandon Graham, right, blocks Akeem Jordan during training camp drills. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

BETHLEHEM -- Monte Taylor is a rookie free agent defensive end out of the University of Cincinnati who was signed by the Eagles in mid-June after he was released by Seattle.

Brandon Graham was the 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft.

As far as Graham is concerned, though, there’s no difference between he and Taylor right now.

"I’m coming from the ground up," said Graham, who played just 56 snaps last season after tearing his ACL late in his rookie season and needing career-threatening microfracture surgery. "I’m just like a free agent. Somebody that just got picked up by the Eagles this year and is facing a make-or-break year. You’re either going to get it done or you’re going to get cut."

Actually, that may not be all that far from the truth. Despite his first-round pedigree, Graham’s first-round grace period is up. He is no lock to make the Eagles’ season-opening roster. He needs to play his way onto the team in camp and the preseason.

Right now, they’ve got seven defensive ends in camp. With tackles Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox both able to also play outside, there’s a good possibility the Eagles will only keep four ends on their 53-man roster. Starters Jason Babin and Trent Cole obviously will be two of them. Rookie second-round pick Vinny Curry almost certainly will be the third. That leaves Graham, Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt battling for that fourth job.

Graham reported to camp in the best shape of his life. Asked to compare his strength, quickness and conditioning now to his rookie year, he said, "It’s times three. Times three from before the injury. I’ve been putting in a lot of work. The hours I’ve put in, it’s paying off right now because I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been in. Now I just need to work on my technique and give what (defensive line) coach (Jim) Washburn is trying to get out of us."

Graham had Lasik eye surgery during the offseason, which he feels will help him see the snap better and enable him to get out of his stance quicker.

"It’s easier for me to see the ball now," he said. "I used to squint a lot and get a lot of migraines. Now, I’m feeling good."