September 17 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“Brandon Graham is going home this week, but he might be playing in an unfamiliar place.
Graham expects to have more than 100 family members and friends inside Ford Field on Sunday when the Eagles play the Lions in Detroit, Graham’s hometown.
Hoping to rack up his first NFL sack in front of supporters wearing his Eagles 54 and Michigan 55 jerseys, Graham may have to accomplish that goal from an unusual spot: defensive tackle.
After a standout college career and impressive training camp as a defensive end who uses raw speed to dust tackles, the Eagles’ No. 1 draft pick spent much of his first game on the interior of the defensive line, where he had to rely on leverage to rush past offensive guards.
Of the 49 defensive snaps he played Sunday, Graham lined up on the interior of the defensive line for 26.
When he was inside, Graham battled guards amid more traffic and less space than at end, where in the preseason he was often one-on-one with tackles and had room to run. Sometimes double-teamed and often overpowered against the Packers, Graham didn’t register a sack or a tackle.
Immediately after the game he said he was surprised he spent so much time inside.
“I just didn’t know that I was going to be used like that, because I would have studied for the guard a little more,” Graham said Thursday.
He had played some tackle during training camp and the preseason but had mostly been at defensive end.
The shift is consistent with the Eagles‘ tendency to use players in surprising situations, though the habit sometimes provides unpleasant results. Against the Packers, the Eagles lined up quarterback Michael Vick as a wide receiver on their first offensive play only to be penalized because he did not set up properly. The team later sent linebacker Stewart Bradley in as an end, but he lined up in the neutral zone and was also flagged.
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said Graham had a “productive” day against the Packers and might be used inside again in the future, depending on the matchups.”
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