Graham fixed on proving self, not contract

September, 28, 2013
9/28/13
5:00
PM ET
METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham stressed again Saturday that he is not concerned about his contract situation and is strictly focused on football -- something that has been working awfully well for the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

The topic of Graham’s contract came up again because of a report by Pro Football Talk earlier in the week that said the Saints had made an offer at some unspecified point but Graham’s camp had not responded.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Graham
John David Mercer/USA TODAY SportsSaints tight end Jimmy Graham is having a strong start to the season with 23 catches and four TDs.
“I’m not really sure where all of these rumors are coming from, but for me, that whole situation isn’t important to me right now,” said Graham, who is in the final year of his rookie deal. “I know I’m going to keep going out and do what I do. Every Sunday and Monday, I’m going to go out and play football and play to the best of my abilities. The rest will take care of itself.”

When asked about how it’s become an increasingly hot topic among fans, who scream or tweet, “Pay him!” every time he does well, Graham laughed.

“You know, that comment is funny," Graham said. "I get paid every two weeks here. I’m not really sure what everybody is talking about."

“For me, it really is all football,” Graham added. “I’m a very hungry player right now. I feel like I have a lot to show. I’m going to try to do all I can to put the team in the best situation to win. So all the comments and the things that people say doesn’t faze me or get to me. I’m going to go out on Sunday and give all I have.”

Graham made no secret in the offseason about how determined he is to make up for what he considered a down year in 2012. Although he caught 85 passes for 982 yards and nine touchdowns last year, his performance wasn’t consistently up to his standard. He battled a wrist injury all year and led the NFL with 14 dropped passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

This year, he certainly appears to be back in peak form. Graham has 23 catches for 358 yards and four touchdowns. He leads the NFL with 19 catches for first downs, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He has been credited with two drops.

“You know, this season for me is everything about proving the type of player that I am,” Graham said. “I feel like I disappointed myself last year and I wasn’t able to do the things that I wanted to do. I mean, if you look at the stats, some people laugh at it because I had a decent year stat-wise. But as far as putting this team in the best opportunity to win and making the plays that I know I can make … so now I play with every emotion that I have in my body. I play because I feel like I have a lot to prove.”

Graham, who had wrist surgery immediately after last season, said his improved health has a lot to do with his improved play this year. He also said he and quarterback Drew Brees have seemed to lock in together well this year. And he said he’s been fortunate to wind up in single coverage in many situations.

“This offseason is the hardest that I’ve worked in, not only rehab but just on little things, you know, film room,” Graham said. “But I think more than anything, I’m playing with more emotion than I ever have.”

Mike Triplett

ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter

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