Graham happy to shake label as solely special-teams player

January 30, 2013 | WNST Staff

CORNERBACK COREY GRAHAM

(on growing up in Buffalo) “It was very exciting. I had a great time in Buffalo. My whole family is still there. I enjoyed playing high school football there in the Catholic league. It’s very good competition. I enjoyed it. If I could do it all over again, I would go back and do it again.”

(on his 1700 yard season) “Is that what it was? I was alright. Not too bad of a year. In high school I was a running back and kind of a receiver. If you were throwing the ball, I was the receiver. If you were running the ball, I was the running back. But I had my high school coach. He did a great job of getting me involved in all things. He was like my mentor. Even when I was in college, I went back to train with him. He was a great coach for me and we had a pretty good team. Our basketball team was pretty good but our football team was alright. We could get it done. We had some good times.”

 

(on his influences in Western New York) “My brother was the one who influenced me the most as far as getting me above the fray to play football. He was the one that pushed me to be the best I could. (He had me) running early and training in the morning and doing all types of stuff. Him and my coach, I would say, they were the two people that influenced me the most.”

 

(on joining a Super Bowl bound team after leaving Chicago) “This has been amazing. It’s been unreal. I think everything this year has been amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I not only got the opportunity to get a chance to play, but I got the opportunity to play with guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. It’s been amazing. We’ve been riding a long time and now we’re here in the Super Bowl. We have one more step to go, but it’s been an amazing ride so far.”

 

(on the team being a family atmosphere) “It’s been great. That’s one thing that I was hoping for. In Chicago it’s like that too. The teammates were very close. Everybody was close to each other. Everybody got along. I didn’t want to go to an organization that was the opposite. You hear some stuff on SportsCenter and some stuff on websites talking about how players are fighting each other and they don’t get along with their coaches. It’s the complete opposite here. It’s a family oriented organization. They treat their players good. It’s a first-class organization. There’s nothing more I could ask for.”

 

(on getting to play defense) “It’s been unreal. That’s what you ask for. You wait five years and I finally get my chance to play on the defense. I couldn’t ask for anything more. When you get an opportunity you make the best out of it.”

 

(on why he thinks he didn’t get to play defense in Chicago) “I don’t know. It’s different reasons. My second year I was fortunate to get the opportunity to start in eight games and I felt like I played pretty well. But things happen for a reason. They ended up getting different things out of me. They wanted me to be the special teams guy there and so I went out there when I got a chance and made the best out of my opportunity and tried to be the best special teams player in the league. When you’re doing that, sometimes you get labeled like that. It’s tough like that. Sometimes it’s hard to get that label off.”

 

(on when Baltimore told him he would get to play defense) “No team will tell you that, but it was as simple as this. Obviously they brought me in for special teams but he told me if I showed that I deserved I could play on defense that I would get that opportunity. That’s all I was asking for was the opportunity. I wasn’t asking for any coach to say, “Well yeah, you’re going to play on defense” because that’s based on play. I was just saying if I showed that I deserved to play, will you find a way to get me on the field, and he said yes. That’s all I needed to hear.”

 

(on the Bears trying to re-sign him) “The Bears did try to resign me. They tried to re-sign me. It wasn’t like they just told me to go ahead and walk. My special teams coach said that he wanted me to be there. Obviously, I wanted to be there with him, but I knew I had to move on and do something bigger.”

 

(on asking Lovie Smith about why he wasn’t playing on defense) “It was different situations. There wasn’t much to say, really. I would ask him what I needed to do to get better or show that I needed to be on the field and he would say, “Corey, you’re doing everything that I asked you to do.” I don’t know what the situation was, but he fit me as a special teams (player) and he wanted me to be that, and that’s just what it was. I felt like I was playing pretty well when I was there my last two years. I felt like I could have been on the field, but it’s a different defense. In Chicago, basically, you have your two corners, you have your nickel, and that’s it. It’s not a system like here where you sometimes have six defensive backs on the field at the same time and stuff like that. It’s a system where they can create packages and put guys in to get you there. In Chicago it’s a cover two system. It’s simple. You have your exact spots and that’s it. When you watch teams like the Ravens and the Jets, you see different guys, different sets, a lot of guys on the field, a lot of defensive backs. I knew in coming to a different system that I’d have the opportunity to show why I should be out there.”

 

(on whether or not the offer from the Bears was competitive with the offer from the Ravens) “It wasn’t competitive. It’s funny how things work. Not only was this the best situation, but it was the best situation financially for me also.”

 

(on his previous contract in Chicago) “It wasn’t a bad contract. It was a one year deal for $1.5 million. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. You go there and you show what you can do. I was fortunate to go out there and make the Pro Bowl and I just tried to do the best I could on special teams. Going into that season, I had a really great training camp and I thought I’d have the chance to play on defense, but things didn’t work out for me. I knew that eventually I was going to try something different.”

 

(on whether or not other teams were interested in signing him this year) “Yes, I had the opportunity to go to several teams. It was Detroit, Chicago and Seattle. The year before I could have went to a few teams also, but I wanted to be in Chicago at that point. I felt like I would have gotten the chance to play on defense. I didn’t know that going there. I wanted to be there and live there. My family was happy. I wanted to be there. I knew after this year that it was time for me to go.”

 

(on the offer from Detroit) “I felt like I could definitely have the opportunity to play in Detroit. I just didn’t know if it would have been the best situation. I looked into everything. I wanted to play on defense and that was probably the most important thing. Obviously financially you wanted to get the best situation also. I wanted to go to a competitive place. I wanted to go where I could do well. Don’t get me wrong, Detroit had an up-and-coming team. They made the playoffs last year. When it came down to it, I just felt like Baltimore was a better situation financially and as a team. The offer was closer than Chicago but it wasn’t near Baltimore.”

 

(on what his view of the Lions was when he was comparing teams) “It was alright. The coaches were really cool. It seems like they really want to improve their building. It’s different. When you go to an organization and you see the way they do things in Baltimore, this is a top of the line organization. It’s tough to compete with Baltimore. I couldn’t tell you exactly what Detroit is missing. You just know it when you see it. They had done well and they have a bunch of young talent, but it’s just different. You can’t really call out exactly what they’re missing. I had a sit down here in Baltimore with the head coach and I thought this was a better situation. Detroit had a lot of things up and down with their defensive backs, but I just felt like I was wanted here more in Baltimore.”

 

(on the Ravens defensive scheme playing to his skills) “I pretty much think I could play any scheme, but I like it. I love this scheme here. It’s not predictable. A lot of guys can do a lot of things, especially a player like me that can play inside and outside. I think I fit well with this system.”

 

(on what time he ran in college) “I didn’t run because I broke my ankle in my senior year of college in the fifth game of my season. At the combine, I had a boot on my foot still. I had to get a plate and two screws in my ankle, so it hurt me a lot. I wasn’t able to really run like that my senior year. When I ran it on my junior day before I broke my ankle I was actually pretty fast. I was a 4.3 (second) guy. I ran a 4.37 (second 40-yard dash). I broke my ankle my senior year and I wasn’t really able during my whole first year in the league. My first year was tough. I was probably at about 70 to 80 percent.”

 

(on playing for the Bears) “I loved being in Chicago. They drafted me and gave me an opportunity to play when, to be honest with you, I didn’t even know if I’d get the chance to play in the league. You go to a D1-AA school and you break your ankle and you can’t run at the combine and show what you can do. When you come back and try to run it at pro days, you might be at 70 percent. You’re just hoping just to get by. I was blessed just to get an opportunity to play in this league. I was hoping I would get picked up as a free agent. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get the chance and they gave me a chance. I was whipping all over the place. I was thankful they gave me the chance to play on special teams and I gave it everything I had. It wasn’t until my second year when I started in eight games that things started to change. I knew what I could do at this level. I was playing against the best receivers in the world and I held on so I felt good about it. After that season, everything turned. I was at starting corner and they moved me to safety for two weeks and when I went back to corner I was behind everybody at corner. I didn’t agree with the way things went.”

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