Thursday, 27 October 2011 10:33
Saints Jimmy Graham Knows Hard Knocks, Rams' Spagnuolo is Feeling Them
Jimmy GrahamTall and obviously very talented, New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is showing his worth.  Only in his second year, he is having one of the best seasons ever for a tight end. He has 45 receptions for  674 yards and 5 touchdowns

He and running back Darren Sproles have become Drew Brees' favorite short-yardage targets.

Growing up, Graham was bounced around homes and had various caretakers in an emotionally distrustful childhood.

 His path from this beginning to the NFL is chronicled in Rachel Nichols' excellent video profile on ESPN and is described by Larry Brown.

His mother often left him with other family members in Georgia. He even lived with an ex-stepfather for a year. Graham's mother was paid $98 a month for child support from Graham's biological father for child support.

Both Nichols and Brown tell the story about Graham's mother refusing to give the ex-step father the $98 because he was raising the child, the ex-step father dropped young Jimmy off at social services.

Graham made his way to a group home and delinquents. After a long and rocky road, Graham earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Miami.

He played college football only one year for the hurricanes.  The Saints liked what they saw and drafted him high--third round.

Graham knows what it means to be at the bottom which explain why he has accelerated to the top. 

The 12th annual All Saints Night Gala is set for Friday night, Nov. 4, at the Rivertown Exhibition Hall at 415 Williams Blvd. in Kenner from 6-10. The event will be catered by 20 restaurants. The cost is $50 per person.  The 24th Annual Saints Hall of Fame Induction Dinner,honoring former Saints safety Sammy Knight and lon-time sportscaster Bruce Miller, is Saturday night, Nov, 5, in the Bienville Room (Club Level) of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 7.The cost is $75 per person or $750 per table of 10. You can get more info at (504) 309-1004...

by Ed Staton

(Visit Louisiana Sports for your LSU and Saints jerseys.)

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Steve Spagnuolo is on a very hot seat as coach of the winless Rams. He probably will be looking for another job next season.

His starting quarterback Sam Bradford is injured and probably won't play against the Saints on Sunday. He said the Saints' win over the Colts didn't surprise him. He said the Rams are a good team and the baseball Cardinals don't have any effect on his team, but he wised them well in the World Series.

With Saints coach Sean Payton calling plays from the press box he won't be able to shake hands with him after the game. "I'll do an air handshake after the game," said the coach.

Spagnuolo's comments to the media:


Opening Statement:

“We come off a rough game this past week, but one thing is that that the next week is another week in the NFL. We’re going to focus on our next opponent the New Orleans Saints and we’re looking forward to it.”

Do you have any updated news on Sam Bradford?

“No. When I say it’s day to day, you may think that’s coach lingo. That’s legitimately what it is. He’s just in the middle of his rehab. Until the trainers feel that he can practice getting on his toes and dropping back, we won’t do that until we get the green light.”

Were you a little bit surprised about how the Saints played against Indianapolis on Sunday night?

“Absolutely nothing surprises me about the New Orleans Saints. Sean (Payton) does a great job. I give a shout out to Sean where I hope he’s feeling better, but I don’t want him feeling so good that he’s able to have the team play like that. Is there any way we can do that? I have a great deal of respect for what they do down there. They’re an explosive offense. They know what to do defensively and they’ve been doing it for a long time. They have good players.”

You talked about poor tackling at Dallas, but for a defensive coach yourself how frustrated are you that the defense is languishing?

“It’s very frustrating. What magnifies all of that is there are two runs, one which goes for 91 because of a missed tackle and one that goes for 43. You can’t really say that they don’t count. They’re in there, recognized it. I think that our guys will respond to fixing it. I have not to that point felt like that was an issue with our football team. I don’t think anybody did. But Dallas certainly made us miss tackles or we made ourselves miss them one or the other. What we’re doing this week is working on getting that corrected.”

As a coach, how do you get your team to focus on that it’s a different game every week?

“We’ve functioned that way since the beginning and again, whether we were 6-0 or 0-6 on this particular Wednesday morning, the job today would be the same. Every team in the NFL as a head coach, every coach, every player is feeling the same thing today as far as no matter what your record is. The games are played and done. There’s nothing you can do about it. All you can do is look toward the next one and the next one for us happens to be the New Orleans Saints”

How is defending Darren Sproles different from defending Reggie Bush?

“It’s probably very similar in that they’re both explosive guys. They’re both wide receivers and both running backs. When you construct your defense and that particular person goes into the game, you have to decide how you’re going to handle them. You’re obviously trying your best as a defensive coach to avoid getting into a mismatch situation. That’s what the New Orleans Saints have always exploited in their offenses, ways to get mismatches with certain people. We try to not let that happen. I don’t know what a good matchup is against Darren Sproles. He’s an electrifying football player and a challenge to cover. We’ll have to be smart in what we do.”

Is it a similar issue to what the tight end causes?

“Yes. He’s’ pretty exceptional. He’s 6-5 or 6-6 with a 35 or 36 vertical. He’s a long way up there even before he jumps off the ground. I remember him coming out and always thought he had potential. Obviously that’s showing right now. Drew Brees has a lot of targets, but that’s one of his favorites. He’s coming through. He has great hands, which probably comes from his basketball skills. We have a great deal of respect for him. He’s another weapon, one of many that they have that we need to be very concerned about.”

Being 0-6 with the World Series in town, do you think you’re having to do more cheerleading than you expected as a pro coach and how is the mood in the Rams locker room?

“I think that’s a good thing. We look at that as a positive. Our football team supports the St. Louis Cardinals. I’m a friend of Tony LaRussa. I’m wishing them all the best, wishing they get this next one and bring it to a seventh game, but that doesn’t have an effect on us. When we’re coming in this building, we’re working. We’re working in the walls of this building. It’s that way whether there’s the World Series or not. It is how we have functioned. Most of your good teams do. We like to consider ourselves a good football team. Our record doesn’t reflect that. Certainly in this league it’s all about results. We haven’t had the ones we particularly planned on, but we function properly, which is focus on what we’re doing here and focusing on the next game.”

Are you glad this game is at home rather than the road?

“I think that always helps. Our fans get behind us and our football team. We’ve been down there. We were down there last year. We’ll play a game in our dome in St. Louis this coming Sunday.”

Have you ever been taken down like Coach Payton did in Tampa?

“Actually I coached in NFL Europe and had that happen one time. Lucky for me it didn’t result in any ligament damage. But, I had the biggest bruise on my foot. It’s one of those things where you don’t see them coming. That’s usually how it happens. I saw the one that happened to Sean. That was real quick and brutal. He’s a tough nut and is bouncing back. He’ll be alight.”

You’re not going to be able to shake hands with him after the game because he’ll be coaching upstairs. Will you get to visit with him beforehand?

“Sean and I are good friends. We’ve texted back and forth at times. I don’t know. I certainly understand that situation and know he’s going to be in the box. I’ll do an air handshake from ground level to box.”

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