Brandon Graham's journey back from knee surgery included lots of rehab, lots of ice, and lots of Jim's.
Graham, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2010, said today that he ballooned from 270 pounds to almost 290 pounds during his 2 months on crutches after he tore his ACL in December. Teammates started calling him a defensive tackle.
"You know what got me real big? The Philly cheesesteaks," said Graham, who lives within crutching distance from Jim's Steaks, at 4th and South Streets. "Jim's? That's all I eat."
It wasn't all he ate, but whatever he ate - wings, pizza, pasta - he ate a lot of it.
"I'd eat two, three plates," Graham said. "Now, I'll eat 1½."
And how many cheesesteaks?
"One. A whole one. Now, I eat a half one. Then I'll save it," Graham said. "That's my big thing: I can't save anything. When I cook something, I want to eat it all right there."
Graham had been nearly as heavy before. Recruited as a high school linebacker, Graham showed up for his freshman year at Michigan about 40 pounds overweight. He switched from linebacker to end, but he wasn't about to move to tackle.
So, as soon as he got off the crutches, he changed his diet. Well, he decreased his intake, anyway.
He also opted for fewer restaurant meals. With omitted cooking skills, he has become a connoisseur of the best pasta sauces. He also began substituting turkey for beef and pork.
The weight melted off by training camp, but Graham's knee was far from ready. He was eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on Monday, which began a 21-day window in which he must return or be relegated to Injured Reserve. Graham will remain on the PUP list until the Eagles are convinced he can contribute on game day.
His first practice was today - a test, he said, that made him nervous.
"I'm anxious to see how I feel tomorrow," Graham said. "I know I'm going to be sore, because I haven't hit anybody. You can't really simulate that."
He said he hopes that his increased physical activity will help him shed at least 10 more pounds. He's got a shot.