Graham talks contract, blocking and more

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham touched on a handful of interesting topics when he met with the media following Wednesday’s practice. Here are the highlights:

  • Graham didn’t want to reflect too deeply on what it meant for him to sign a four-year, $40 million contract after the struggles he faced growing up, when he was abandoned by his mother into the foster care system. But it's clear that it will always be a part of who he is. “I think my background has been talked about quite a bit,” said Graham, who has spoken in-depth about the subject in the past -- including this 2011 ESPN feature -- and made it a focus of some of his charity endeavors. “For me, it was less about the money; it felt good to be wanted. It felt good to know what your future is going to be. For someone like me, that means a lot. … Sometimes you reflect, but it’s only been three weeks, I’ve been pretty busy here. But obviously I know where I came from, and I know how hard it was to get here. And so I’m going to cherish every moment of it and do everything in my power to never go back.”

  • On how he has remained grounded despite rising so quickly to stardom in the NFL: “I think this offseason was a good grounding point for me, just dealing with everything by myself with only a couple of people in my corner. That will keep you real grounded, and it keeps you focused. All I did this offseason was work out and fly. I’m a simple guy. Nothing has changed. I’m still the same person I was four years ago.”

  • Graham cracked a smile while saying that people have been “knocking” his blocking in recent years. But he said it’s a part of his game he takes seriously: Yeah, the last two years, everybody’s been knocking on my blocking, I don’t know why. But you know what, I’m truly healthy now. I think that’s a big deal with that the last two years, with some major injuries that kind of limited that. And I took the time this offseason to really look at some film and analyze myself as a player. And I noticed that all of the times I was able to help the team the most was when I was blocking the best, because that helps out on play-action and it stops them from putting a corner pressed up when I’m on the line with an outside ‘backer. So it’s only going to help the team out, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

  • On how strange it was to practice without quarterback Drew Brees this past week while Brees rests his strained oblique: “Even though he’s not throwing the ball, after every route he runs up to me and tells me what he wants me to do or what I could’ve done better. He’s still getting those mental reps in. I know he’ll be just fine. He’s just taking a little time off, which he needs. It’s a long season. You’ve got 16 games and four preseason games. That’s 20, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have another three or four after that.”

  • On enjoying the amenities at the Saints’ training camp site at The Greenbrier resort, despite the floral decorations in his room: “The floral print is different, but the facilities are amazing. During the off day I had the opportunity to do the sporting clays with some of the guys and some of the Navy Seals. I just want to let it be known that I beat Drew and that I beat most of those Navy Seals. That was a good day for me.”

  • On whether it will be good to get away and play the preseason opener at the St. Louis Rams on Friday: “We’re not ready to really get away from here. The weather is beautiful, the food is good, and we’ve got great fields. I think, more or less, we’re just ready to hit somebody else. We’ve been beating up on each other for the last two weeks. Things are getting a little heated out here today, and so I think it’s time to finally hit somebody else.”