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Memo to Sonbutts: Eagles’ DE Graham “Cracker” is for real…and he’s better than JPP…

As many of our regular readers know, there is a running debate that rages here over the relative merits of two young DE’s in the NFL— the Eagles’ 1st-round draft pick from 2010 Brandon Graham, and the Giants’ 1st-round draft pick from 2010 Jason Pierre-Paul…

That argument has just reached fever pitch.

Graham “Cracker” was derailed last season by the lingering effects of microfracture surgery while JPP seemingly took the honors for good in the unofficial competition by contributing mightily to the Giants’ late-season surge in 2011 for the Super Bowl title…

But “Cracker” has come back with a vengeance…and is about to return serve.

Here Graham completes a pressure move on Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco in last Sunday’s win over Baltimore… photographic evidence that Brandon Graham is indeed back to form…and evidence that destroys Sonbutts’ theory that Graham was a non-factor in the Eagles’ pass rush against the Ravens…Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco goes down after taking a hit by Eagles’ Brandon Graham on Sunday, September 16, 2012, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Ron Cortes, MCT / September 16, 2012)

Productivity is no longer an issue for Graham. Neither is health. Still, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham just can’t get on the field enough due to the depth of the Eagles’ defensive line personnel…

That has to be frustrating for a first-round draft pick whose enthusiasm never waned despite all he’s been through. But Graham, who was limited to four snaps in the season opener at Cleveland and nine in Sunday’s home opener against the Baltimore Ravens, isn’t letting down.

He’s officially listed as having five quarterback hurries, fifth best on the team, in those 13 plays.

“It was cool,” Graham insisted. “I’m not worried about it that much. … I know they have a plan for me and I know the little reps I do get, I’m going to go as hard as I can. You just do whatever you can do to help win, and that’s what I want to do.”

Eventually, the Eagles will restrict themselves more than Graham for not rewarding that kind of productivity with more playing time. Graham had microfracture surgery as part of an ACL reconstruction following his rookie season in 2010. As a result, he was never 100 percent last year, and muddled through the season, rarely active on game days and not playing much when he did dress.

This year has been a different story. Graham now is back to full strength, his explosion has returned and his weight is just right. But with starters Trent Cole and Jason Babin and backups Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt handling almost all the game reps, Graham remains in the bullpen. But as he shown in his limited relief innings, Graham is ready to contribute in a big way.


S Colt Anderson (knee), T King Dunlap (hamstring), WR Jeremy Maclin (hip) did not practice Wednesday. WR Riley Cooper (collarbone) and WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring) were limited.

Coach Andy Reid said he doesn’t expect Dunlap to be able to play Sunday. He left the door a little more open for Maclin.

“We’ll see,” Reid said. “I’m going to just see how it goes. I’m going to take it day by day. He made improvement. That’s what I can tell you. Does he still have some soreness in there? Yeah. Will he practice today? No. But we’ll see how he is tomorrow— literally take it day by day.”


Here comes this guy again to mess with our minds and expectations… except this time he’s TRYING TO BEAT US…

He started this season on the bench, but was called into action when John Skelton was injured in the opener. Kolb rallied the Cardinals to a victory, then led them to an upset win at New England last week. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter again Sunday when they take on Vick and the Eagles at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“It’s somewhat ironic,” Kolb said Wednesday in a phone interview. “But I know better than to look too far ahead. I learned a lot during my time with the Eagles. One of the things I learned was not to try to predict anything.”

When the Eagles traded quarterback Donovan McNabb to Washington on Easter Sunday in 2010, Kolb was annointed his successor and stayed in the lineup throughout training camp and the preseason. His status changed when Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews slammed him to the turf in the 2010 opener, giving him a concussion. Vick took over that game, nearly led the Eagles to a win, and went on to have a terrific season that landed him in the Pro Bowl. Eagles coach Andy Reid promised Kolb he would get his job back when healthy, then changed his mind. Kolb’s four-year tenure with the Eagles ended in July, 2011, when he was traded to the Cardinals in exchange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a draft pick.

“I try not to live in the past, but in that Green Bay game, I never thought I’d be going into that game and playing that day,” Vick said Wednesday. “I never knew what my career was going to be like, how it was going to take off, and where it was going to go.”

Kolb, the Eagles’ second-round draft pick in 2007, has had a weird career.

Upon signing with the Cardinals, the 28-year-old entered last season as their starter, but wound up missing seven games – including the Cardinals’ 21-17 win over the Eagles – with a turf toe injury and concussion-like symptoms. Skelton beat him out during training camp this season for the starting job.

“My career’s been wild,” Kolb said. “Every time I think things are set, a curveball shows up. That’s why I just take everything game by game, week in and week out. That’s another less I learned in Philly. I learned not to let the highs and lows affect you that bad because you never know how quickly things can change.”

This will be an emotional game for both Kolb and his former Eagles teammates who knew him. He’s also one of Brandon Graham’s best friends from that 2010 campaign. Now both guys will be seeking redemption of sorts in the game coming up on Sunday in Arizona—they will be in the same church again, yet they will be singing from opposite sides of the choir.