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Jimmy Graham: "I am Always Looking to Get Better Any Way Possible"

Saints Pro Bowl TE says he hopes to improve his blocking and yards after the catch this season


New Orleans Saints Tight End Jimmy Graham
Media Availability
Wednesday, August 1, 2012

With everyone talking about how great you are, do you want to focus on what you can improve on going into your third year?

"Yes. For me, I know I'm going to have to block a lot better. I think it is going to help me with my routes. Especially when they have me double-teamed and I stay in there and block. Or I am pushing people off the ball, and showing that I can do that, being an every down tight end and play 65 snaps a game. I think that is only going to help me. I continue to work on that and my footwork. I have gotten a little bigger. I am trying to develop in my third year of football."
How much bigger are you?

"I still weigh the same but I can list it a little bit more now. I'm about 265. I was at 270 last week. I play probably around 265."

What do you think about Coach Vitt having a list of things that you need to improve on?

"Coach Vitt is always hard on me. He is always talking to me. Always telling me that I am a quiet leader on the team and that I have to lead by my play. I have to lead by how I hustle, my passion for the game, and that is really some of the things he is talking about. I am still a young player. I have been in the NFL for two years and I have been playing for two and a half. I only think I can go up from here. With Drew (Brees) always on top of me and Pete (Carmichael), I am definitely going to continue to get better just one day at a time."

What can we expect to see this year that we didn't see last year?

"I really just want to do a play or do something that helps this team win every game. I think, another thing is to get a bunch of yards after the catch and focus on that. Focus on protecting myself, getting my shoulder down, and pushing for those extra few yards."

Does being so tough on yourself motivate you?
"That is just how I have always been in everything that I do. I am kind of a perfectionist and I am always looking to get better any way possible. For me, whenever I look back to last year and I watch those plays, I see the San Francisco game, I see the Lions game, I only see missed opportunities. I think I had a lot of missed opportunities out there, a lot of balls that I could have gotten to, a lot of routes that I should have been more disciplined on or things that I should have done better. Being more of a veteran player, being in a system as a starter for one year so far, going in to my second, hopefully I can minimize those mistakes and those missed opportunities."

Is there someone that you watched over the offseason and thought you wanted to do things like him?

"I am always watching film and taking everything I can from everybody. It was a special opportunity to be with Tony Gonzalez in a Pro Bowl and really get to pick his brain. He really helped me a lot about how he prepares for every game, how he prepares for the season. He has been doing longer than I can imagine. He has been playing a very high level for a very long time and is going for another year with the Falcons. To be with him for a week and to spend time picking his brain has really helped me."

What does it mean to you guys to have David Thomas back?

"It means a lot. He has every tool. He knows this offense so well. He is always teaching me something new, especially in the blocking game, especially in the running game. Always talking to me about my footwork, about combinations, about who I am supposed to get to, how I am supposed to get there. In the games, it is just really awesome having him in the sidelines motivating me and pushing me. Seeing him with his kids over there is really special."

You said the Drew gets on you, what is that like?
"Drew expects a lot from me. He throws the ball and expects me to go get it. He expects me to never make mental mistakes, especially in where I am supposed to be. If I ever have a slip in that, he is very hard on me, telling me what his thought process was and why he threw it there and that he is going to throw balls where he thinks only I can get it and that I should be the only one to come down with it. He is always talking to me, always trying to make me a better player and challenge me with something each and every day."

Does he take it off the field?

"This offseason, he called me a few times to make sure that I was working. I was working and I was flying quite a bit. For the most part, right now it is 6:30-10:30 every day. Once we break meetings, it is just get to bed as fast as you can. He definitely is always challenging me at every moment. Sometimes I will be sitting in film room with all of the tight ends and Drew will send another quarterback to peek his head in and tell me what I should have done on this route. That happens every day. He is always criticizing me, always trying to make me a better player. He says that the sky is the limit and that I can only get better. To have your quarterback have that much confidence in you and to want and help you to get there is special."

Is it always a different quarterback?

"It is always somebody new. Sometimes it is so bad that he has to get up and come in there. He has talked about that he wants to set up a microphone that goes from the quarterback room to the tight end room just so he can tell me everything that is on his mind at all times. He has been awesome in my development. Hopefully, and I know it's going to happen, I am going to get better and better each day."

Talk about the chance to go to the Hall of Fame and play a game in Canton, Ohio.

"Special. Also to play against Arizona and (Larry) Fitzgerald who I got to spend a little bit of time with this offseason. It is going to be really fun to be able to see the Hall of Fame, which I have never seen being a young player. I am really excited to go in there and see some of the other players I grew up watching."

When Drew throws you that ball in the corner of the end zone and you go up for it, which cornerback gives you the most trouble?

"I don't know. For the most part, I am about a foot taller than most of those guys. There are not many defensive backs that give me a lot of trouble. It is a route that I am just very good at. Drew has very, very good touch so it is very hard to defend. If a player plays it over top than it will be back shoulder. And if he plays it back shoulder then Drew is just going to throw it over his head. It is something that we work on a lot. I am not sure how Malcolm Jenkins is going to cover it, I really don't."

Has Drew been coaching you more since Coach Payton has not been around? Have you noticed a difference in him?
"I don't know if Drew can do any more. It is pretty constant. Since Drew has been gone a little bit, I can tell that he wants to get back on that page. He wants to keep molding this connection with me and with everybody. He keeps talking to me about tempo. My tempo out of the huddle, my tempo in routes, just knowing where to be and knowing how to get there and doing that as fast as possible. That is what this team is about, that is what this offense is about, is tempo. We try to get in the huddle and get the play off as quickly as possible. He is always on top of me."

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