Castillo: Graham Is On a Mission

The positive momentum Brandon Graham built up in the spring carried over to training camp and now into the preseason.

“Brandon’s on a mission,” Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said today. “You can ask him, and he’ll tell you the same thing. He’s on a mission. We expect some good things from Brandon. But he’s in a dogfight, just like all of them. It’s tough to keep 12 of them.”

The Eagles have a logjam at defensive end, although it’s highly unlikely that Graham will be the odd man out. Against the Steelers, he played well at left defensive end, notching (by my count) four pressures, a QB hit, and a sack.

Graham said one of his goals was to not miss a practice at training camp, and he accomplished that. Now it’s on to the next phase.

“The mission is just to get back on my game because I was hurt,” he said. “I know what I can do. I’m just going out there and trying to prove to them that they didn’t waste a pick.”

As a rookie, Graham spent some time rushing the passer from the defensive tackle spot. Today, Castillo mentioned him and Phillip Hunt as two defensive ends who could potentially move inside in certain situations. We’ve already seen defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox move outside and play some end.

“You can get caught in the run on a third down sometimes,” Graham said, when asked about the difference playing inside. “You’ve just got to be able to hold the gap and be able to take on double teams, which I feel like I’ll be able to do. But other than that, it’s no different. You’ve just got to get a quicker move than you would do outside.”

Versatility will be key as the Eagles determine which defensive linemen to keep. On my 53-man roster projection, I had them keeping 11, but that is a high number. Ten might be more likely.

With Jason Babin still out with a calf strain, Graham should see plenty of action Monday night against the Patriots.

THE TACKLING ISSUE

Castillo was asked today why the tackling issue from last season has still not been fixed.

“It was corrected at the end of the year,” he said. “I think it’s like everything else, we hadn’t played football… I’m sure if you turn on tape, there’s people missing tackles in a lot of different places. The thing is that we’re working the tackle circuit to get better, and we just started playing football again. Those are things that will get better and will get corrected.”

As I mentioned in an earlier post, statistically speaking, the Eagles missed the second-highest percentage of tackles last year. Only the 4-12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were worse.

DEMPS TO NEW ENGLAND

The Eagles reportedly had kicked around the idea of adding Olympian Jeff Demps, but he’ll be headed to the Patriots, according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

  • Andy

    Seems like the Patriots scoop up everybody.

  • barrynic

    I guess Demps was good then, at least they noticed. I hope Graham pans out, I liked him in college. My big question is about Castillo sticking up for Jarrett. “He’ll knock your block off”? Maybe if you don’t move.