John Crist: Last season, nobody knew who you were as a rookie, plus you were coming off an injury. This season, you're one of the best stories of training camp and getting reps with the first-team defense. What a difference a year makes for you, right?
Corey Graham: Obviously, it's a good feeling. It's good to come out and finally get a chance to play, and people get to see that I actually can play a little bit. So it's definitely good to finally come out here and show them that I can play a little bit, so that's a plus. Last year, coming in as a rookie, I was just doing everything I possibly can to make the team. It was tough on me because I was hurt and everything, so I was just fighting through injuries and trying to stay on.
JC: I know you're happy to be out there with the starters, but it's got to be tough since you're doing it at the expense of Charles Tillman and the trying family situation he's going through right now. Has the whole experience been a little bittersweet for you?
CG: Charles has things going on with his family. I wish him the best with that, but you've just got to come out here and play. No matter how you get [reps], you've just got to try to take advantage of them. You just try to go out there and just try to get better every day. No matter how you get them, as long as you get them and take advantage of them, it's on film. So that's all it is. It's unfortunate that it had to be this way with Charles and everything, but hopefully he can come back and he'll fit right back in and everything like that. But right now, while he's gone, I'm just trying to do the best I can.
JC: I know you said earlier in camp that you sometimes think to yourself in the huddle, "Wow! That's Brian Urlacher! Wow! That's Tommie Harris!" How long does it take for a young player to get over the star power and realize they're just teammates like everybody else?
CG: Pretty much now. I'm not in the huddle now and like, "Wow! That's Brian Urlacher!" I'm kind of past that. I'm past that right now. So pretty much now, they're just my teammates. I'm just trying to go out there, compete, and just trying not to let them all down. It's not the fact that they're Brian Urlacher or they're Tommie Harris or anyone like that. It's just the fact that they're my teammates, and I'm just trying to do the best I possibly can.
JC: Just like Tillman, you're a little taller than the average cornerback in this league. Why do you believe this defense is seemingly engineered for bigger corners?
CG: Honestly, I don't know. It's a Cover-2 defense. There's a lot of physical jamming and stuff like that. But to be honest, I pretty much don't know. I'm just happy to be in the situation. I'm just finding out that actually this defense loves taller corners. I don't know why it is. Probably just the fact that you've got to be more physical with the Cover 2 and stuff like that, and you've got to make tackles.
JC: You've been going at it on the field and in the meeting room for 10-12 hours a day for a week and a half straight down here in Bourbonnais. At this point of training camp, it's got to be difficult just finding the motivation to get up in the morning, isn't it?
CG: It's difficult getting up here, the same old thing every day. But you can't really look at it like that. You've got to come out here and just try to get better and take advantage of your opportunities. Because right now you're practicing and getting a chance to play football. But you never know. It could be taken away from you. You see Charles going through this right now with his family and stuff. I'm pretty sure he's at home wishing that he could be playing football, and everything would be back to normal. So it kind of puts things into perspective. You kind of realize that you really enjoy it, and you just come out and be happy that you can play football again.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.