Brandon Graham to Have Expanded Role?

Could Brandon Graham finally find optimum use in the Eagles defense?

After several seasons of "We coulda had Earl Thomas," and "We coulda had Jason Pierre-Paul," from bitter Eagles fans, this could be the year that Brandon Graham, selected just ahead of those defensive stalwarts in 2010, finds his niche in Philadelphia.

With the Eagles seeking more pop from its middling pass rush, Graham has been a standout this preseason, racking up two sacks, 1 hit, and four hurries over 68 snaps (per Pro Football Focus). Despite most of Graham's playing time coming against second-stringers, there's something to be said about his vigor and execution in the outside linebacker role.

At Sunday's press conference, defensive coordinator Bill Davis spoke highly of Graham, and even conceded that Graham's catching up to long-time starter Trent Cole, saying:

"They're pretty close. But Trent is still in it, and that's why he's out there more. At the end of the day, we have to pick one or make a decision who is going to dominate, and that falls in our lap. Right now, that's where that is."

Davis all but admits that Graham's making a case for taking snaps away from Cole, who turns 32 in October. Cole led the Eagles in sacks last season with eight, but anyone who can contribute mightily to making the rush flourish is going to find time.

Between the success of the dime package in Thursday's game with the Steelers (with a four-man front and Mychal Kendricks as lone linebacker), and Davis speaking quite highly of Graham's progress, the Eagles coaching staff is certainly hard at work scheming to bolster the pass rush for 2014.

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