Packers TE Jimmy Graham having immediate impact on offense
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — In his first two games with the Green Bay Packers, Jimmy Graham's impact on the offense has been obvious — in two very different ways.
He caught just two passes for 8 yards in the season opener against Chicago, but the attention Graham drew allowed wide receivers Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison to have big days.
Last week against Minnesota, Graham caught six passes for 95 yards and had a more direct role in the offense's production — and that's without counting a 12-yard touchdown pass that was wiped out by a holding penalty.
After having been taken aback by the Bears' approach, Graham is hoping the Washington Redskins follow Minnesota's lead when the Packers travel to FedEx Field on Sunday.
"It's always nice to contribute and do your job and to be that guy that's looked upon to make big plays. We'll see," Graham said Friday in his first interview session with reporters since July 28. "I just want to come in and do my job. If that's block, pass protect or chipping, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability."
With the attention the Bears devoted to Graham, Cobb (nine receptions, 142 yards), Adams (five catches, 88 yards) and Allison (five catches, 69 yards) all caught at least five passes and each caught a touchdown pass. With Graham getting more opportunities against Minnesota, only Adams (eight catches, 64 yards, one touchdown on 12 targets) had the ball thrown his way more often than Graham did.
The Packers' prized free agent acquisition said he was surprised how the Bears were moving safeties away from the middle of the field to chip him at the line.
"I was like, 'Don't you want to rush the quarterback?' But that's what I feel like I'm here for, to kind of open things up, and if the middle's open, to punish them. And if they're going to close it down, then it's 1 on 1 on the outside," Graham said.
Now, the Packers want to keep Graham going. Had his touchdown not been nullified by a holding call on guard Lane Taylor, Graham would have finished with seven receptions for 107 yards and a TD. That would have given him his first 100-yard receiving game since he had 103 for Seattle against Buffalo on Nov. 7, 2016.
"That's (still) a pretty productive day for a tight end. That projects pretty good if you project that out for a season," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "Obviously he had the one touchdown called back; (we) would love for him to score touchdowns. You can add that to this week's to-do list."
The 6-foot-7 Graham provides a big target for Aaron Rodgers. Philbin said Graham has acclimated himself well to teammates.
"Having him in there, obviously, it opens up that window for me outside, it gets Cobb open on the other side and the middle, as well," Adams said about Graham. "It wasn't exactly a point of emphasis (leading up to the Vikings game), but we wanted to get our guy going."
NOTES: Rodgers (left knee) was listed as questionable for a second straight week, though coach Mike McCarthy expects his quarterback to take part in the team's final practice on Saturday. It's the same plan that Rodgers followed last week before playing well against the Vikings. "So hopefully we can get out there tomorrow and have similar work that we had last week and we roll right into the game. That's the outlook," McCarthy said Friday. ... CB Kevin King (groin) is out for the Redskins game. CB Davon House (biceps) and LB Oren Burks (shoulder) are questionable, though both appear to be in line to play on Sunday. S Josh Jones (ankle) is questionable.
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