Graham combines opportunity with success

Corey Graham returned one of his two picks for a TD against Peyton Manning in the postseason. Jeff Gross/Getty Images

CHICAGO -- Corey Graham wanted something in Baltimore that he couldn't get with the Chicago Bears, and now the Ravens' starting corneback is enjoying more than he bargained for.

Graham was a special teams standout with the Bears, but his opportunities on defense were few and far between. Graham planned to leave the Bears following the 2010 season, but he ultimately chose to re-sign on a one-year deal after the conclusion of the 2011 NFL lockout. Graham departed the next offseason and inked a two-year, $3.7 million deal with the Ravens that included a $1.2 million signing bonus.

Injuries eventually paved the way for Graham to emerge as Baltimore's nickel back and he intercepted Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning twice in the Ravens' AFC Divisional playoff victory. Graham is now headed to the Super Bowl.

“Sometimes you need new eyes to see you,” Graham told ESPN 1000's “Carmen, Jurko and Harry Show” on Monday. “I knew it here in Baltimore they give guys an opportunity to play. I know that if you show (Ravens defensive coordinator) Dean Pees that you deserve to play or if you show that you have anything, he'll find a package or find something to get you on the field. That's what he said to me coming in, that if you show that you deserve to play, you'll play. He said it's not a generic defense, that he'll come up with a package or something to get you out there and he's been a man of his word.”

Originally selected by the Bears in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL draft out of New Hampshire, Graham became one of the team's top special teams contributors over his five years in Chicago, earning a trip to the 2011 Pro Bowl with 22 special teams stops. From 2007-11, Graham was tied for third in the NFL with 75 special teams tackles. But Graham also contributed on defense where he registered 93 tackles in nine starts at cornerback in 2008 and recorded an interception in three straight games last year when he filled in at nickel back for D.J. Moore.