Coming off injury, Graham lands on list of most important Eagles

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Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season.

25. Quez Watkins
24. Gardner Minshew
23. T.J. Edwards
22. Marcus Epps
21. Landon Dickerson
20. Jake Elliott
19. Brandon Graham

The Eagles were able to stay much healthier as a team in 2021 but they did suffer a couple significant losses. And when Brandon Graham went down with an Achilles injury in Week 2, it was devastating for their defense and the entire team.

Not only was Graham one of their best players, but he’s also the longest-tenured player on the team, a leader and a never-stop energy source.

So now Graham is 34 and coming off a significant injury and recovery, but the Eagles are still going to rely on him in 2022.

Will Graham return to his dominant form from 2020, when he made his first-career Pro Bowl? Maybe not. But it’ll be fascinating to see how well Graham will play this season. And the Eagles will still need him to play at a high level. They brought back Derek Barnett and still have Josh Sweat at the defensive end position, but Graham could remain a starter and play significant snaps.

The last time Graham had to come back from a serious injury was over a decade ago when he needed micro fracture knee surgery during his rookie season. From 2012-2020, Graham missed just one game.

“It’s cool, man, I’ve been here before,” Graham said this offseason. “It’s not even as (bad) as my knee was. I feel like nothing ever happened, for real. It’s just all about me coming in, in shape, ready to go for training camp and juts helping the guys. Because we really do got some young guys that I’m excited about.”

Not only is Graham the longest-tenured Eagle, but after the Flyers traded Claude Giroux, Graham is the longest-tenured professional athlete in the city. He made his NFL debut back in 2010 and has had an up-and-down career that began with him being called a bust but has become a hero in Philly.

As he enters his 13th NFL season, Graham maintains that the wants to play 15 years in the league. His level of play in 2022 will go a long way to determining if that’s in the cards.

There’s no doubt that the Eagles missed Graham’s pass-rush ability and his prowess for stopping the run in 2021. As much as the Eagles have upgraded on the defensive side of the ball by adding Haason Reddick, Kyzir White, James Bradberry, Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, you can almost toss Graham into this category too. He’s an addition as he comes back from injury.

Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon will get a healthy Graham in 2022 and that will mean a lot.

“I was talking about BG the other day,” Gannon said this spring. “It's like, what's your ideal Eagle? He's in that conversation. Just from a production and leadership standpoint and the person that he is and sustained positive enthusiasm, that's really who he is at his core. And he's a really good player.

“Obviously, it's good to have a bunch of really good players, so excited about BG. He looks good out there right now, and I kind of had to tell him actually, ‘Hey, we don't play for a couple months here, you don't have to go full tilt,’ because he's full tilt all the time. Excited to see where he goes this year.”

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