Time For T.J. Graham to Step Up

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Updated: August 7, 2013
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With Stevie’s hamstring injury last Friday, an opening has appeared for some of the wide receivers on the roster. They now have an opportunity to make the most of their extra reps and show why they are worthy of a significant role this year. T.J. Graham is the one wide receiver who will feel the biggest impact of Stevie Johnson’s absence.

After a disappointing rookie season for the third round draft pick, Graham is looking for a rebound in his sophomore season. You know it’s bad when the highlight of your rookie season for fans was your tendency to drop balls, or the time you ran the wrong route in the end zone at the end of the game against the New England Patriots.

With rookie phenom Robert Woods breathing down Graham’s neck for one of the top two receiving spots going into Week 1 against New England, this opportunity is even more important than most of the other players in this position group.

The best part of Graham’s game is his speed. With the opportunity Graham has in front of him, he must prove that his hands have gotten better and he can hang with bigger defensive backs. Graham has had a good camp to this point and is feeling a lot more confident these days.

“Maybe I couldn’t beat myself on the track, but game speed, I’m a lot more alert, I can see defenses, I can read stuff a lot easier,” Graham told host John Murphy on the John Murphy Show in July. “I understand the concepts, so I can move a lot faster. Being a little older and a lot stronger now, I can run a lot faster through the grabbing and holding of the defense.”

Woods said it best for the young receivers concerning the opportunity at hand.

“I think this opportunity is great for us rookies to come in and all the other receivers as well,” said Woods over the weekend according to buffalobills.com. “It is a great opportunity to put more on film and get more reps. Stevie is down right now, more stuff to put on film for the coaches to look at for their review.”

In the off-season, Graham studied the game of Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace. Graham and Wallace have a lot of similarities between their size and speed. This is a smart move for Graham and one that could help him take some steps in the right direction.

“Just the transition and the tenacity of his routes. He runs them full speed, he’s got a lot of herky-jerky,” said Graham last month. “He’s pressing vertical all the time. Last year, I don’t think I pressed vertical as well as I should have. I didn’t get that burst of speed coming out of breaks that I should have. This year, I feel like those are key points I need to improve on.”

T.J. Graham is a player to keep an eye on in Sunday’s preseason game.

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