Jimmy Graham says it’s no problem when defenses double-cover him. It gives his teammates more of a chance to shine.
Even before he became the first NFL tight end ever to win an offensive player of the month award, Jimmy Graham was drawing coverage from multiple defenders.
And he loves it, he said Friday. It’s freed up his teammates to have their own monster games.
“If teams look to take me out or to double me or do whatever they want to me, Drew (Brees) is going to find the open guy,” Graham said.
Graham, a four-year veteran, won his historic NFC Offensive Player of the Month honor after tallying 27 receptions for 458 yards and six TDs in September to help the Saints start 4-0. He ranks second in the league in receiving yardage and is tied for first in touchdown receptions.
In a 38-17 loss to the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday, the Miami Dolphins focused on containing him, but they surrendered 114 receiving yards on seven catches to running back Darren Sproles, who had two TDs. The Dolphins turned their attention to Sproles, and Graham got two more TDs and most of the 100 receiving yards he had that game on four catches. Wide receiver Marques Colston then chipped in with 96 receiving yards on seven grabs, all in the second half.
Graham expects the Chicago Bears (3-1) to be physical with him and try to disrupt his routes by bumping him off the line of scrimmage, though he added: “This team is so talented, it really doesn’t matter.”
Graham is in the final year of his rookie deal. He declined to give an update on contract extension negotiations but did say this: “Obviously, I want to be a New Orleans Saint.”
“This team has given me everything,” Graham said. “They put me in the best situation possible every week.”
Saints give props to Kromer
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and outside linebacker Junior Galette on Friday complimented a Chicago Bears offensive line that’s permitted just six sacks on quarterback Jay Cutler this year, tied for third-fewest in the NFL. They credited former Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer — now the Bears offensive coordinator — for improving a unit that was one of the most porous in the league recently.
“I think Aaron Kromer’s doing a great job out there, protecting (Cutler), doing the things that allow (him) to use his big arm instead of running for his life as he has in the past there,” Ryan said.
Galette added: “Kromer’s doing a great job over there. Period.”
But Galette suggested the Saints had taken notice that Cutler has been under quite a bit of pressure — on nearly 40 percent of his dropbacks, to be more precise, according to the website Pro Football Focus.
Galette attributed the low sack total on Cutler to his “not holding onto the ball as long as he used to.”
Galette is second on the Saints with three of the team’s 12 sacks.
Gesture touches Ryan
Ryan on Friday said he was touched that the Saints gave him a game ball after the Miami win, which followed the death of his stepmother, Joanie Ryan. He also thanked the team for helping him get to her funeral Tuesday.
“(The Saints) are a class act all the way,” Rob Ryan said. “Certainly not that I deserved (the ball), but it was awfully a nice gesture.”
Joanie Ryan had been married to Rob Ryan’s father, former NFL coach Buddy Ryan, since 1970. She had Alzheimer’s disease, media reports said.
Brees wins another award
Two days after being named the NFC’s offensive player of the week, Brees won the fan vote to become the FedEx Air Player of the Week on Friday. He passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Dolphins.
Saints wide receiver Lance Moore (hand), running back Mark Ingram (toe), safety Roman Harper (knee), defensive end Tyrunn Walker (knee) and nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley (calf) will miss Sunday’s game against the Bears with injuries, the team said. Defensive end Tom Johnson (hamstring) and cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip) are questionable.
For the Bears, safety Anthony Walters will sit the game out with a hamstring injury. Defensive tackle Stephen Paea (toe) and cornerback Charles Tillman (groin/knee) are questionable.
Saints sign CFL star
The Saints waived wide receiver Saalim Hakim from the practice squad to make room for Chris Williams, a wideout/kick returner from the Canadian Football League, the team said Friday.
Williams, 25, signed with the Saints after he reached an agreement with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to pursue free agency in the NFL. According to The Canadian Press, Williams was in a lengthy legal bout to be released from his contract with the Tiger-Cats and was sitting out the CFL’s season before the team agreed to let him leave.
Williams, out of New Mexico State, scored 17 touchdowns for the Tiger-Cats in 2012 — 11 off catches, five off punt returns and one from a missed field goal. He set a team record for total touchdowns and a league mark for return touchdowns.