Eagles' Brandon Graham looking at position switch

"Wherever they put me, I'll go full out," said the Eagles' Brandon Graham, who may be moving from defensive end to linebacker. MICHAEL BRYANT /Staff Photographer
"Wherever they put me, I'll go full out," said the Eagles' Brandon Graham, who may be moving from defensive end to linebacker. MICHAEL BRYANT /Staff Photographer
Posted: April 03, 2013

Brandon Graham did not confirm the widespread belief that he will play outside linebacker for the Eagles this season. But it sounds as if he's preparing for a switch from defensive end to a stand-up pass rusher.

Speaking on the second day of the Eagles' offseason program, Graham said he did not know what position he will play. Asked if he's inquired, he said that the team just started the program Monday and that he would have a better idea as minicamp approaches.

"There's been a lot of talk about a lot of things," Graham said Tuesday. "I don't know where they want to put me at. All I know is wherever they put me, I'll go full out."

Graham's offseason provides some indication of where that will be. The Eagles are expected to switch to a defense with 3-4 principles, and Graham is shedding weight and working on playing as a rush linebacker. In fact, Graham has worked out with Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who has helped Graham with the transition and the expected change in terminology.

Graham weighs 270, and he plans to play at 260. He played at 275 to 280 pounds last season. He said he feels better and moves faster at the lower weight.

"If I stand up, that's cool," Graham said. "You can see more of the field, be able to drop [into coverage] and catch more interceptions. I just want to show that part of my game if I do that."

A move would not be foreign to him. Graham was projected as a potential outside linebacker in the 3-4 out of college, so he has that skill set. He played middle linebacker before he moved to defensive end at Michigan.

Graham has played defensive end for seven seasons, although those seasons have included constant change - from college to the NFL, from a traditional pass-rushing end to the wide nine under defensive line coach Jim Washburn, and now this latest expected change. He has also dealt with injuries.

"I haven't had a whole full year of just playing where I know I can play," Graham said. "Everything's always switching. We had a new D-line coach last year when everything started getting better. Now we have a new coach. But I'm always going to adjust."

Graham considers coach Chip Kelly's regime a "fresh start." He has been inconsistent since the Eagles traded up in the 2010 first round to draft him and bypassed safety Earl Thomas and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. His best production came late last season, after Jason Babin was released and Washburn was fired. Graham recorded four sacks and a forced fumble after joining the starting lineup in Week 12.

"I'm hoping everything carries over with the adjustments I have to make," Graham said. "But at the same time, rushing the passer is rushing the passer. That's a strength of mine, and I just need to get it a lot better to get it where we need to go."

At 6-foot-2, Graham has a more compact, stout frame than the tall, long players Kelly is believed to favor. Graham's height and body physique will not change, but he said that if he makes plays he believes he'll have a spot in Kelly's defense.

"I guess we'll see as it goes," Graham said. "But I believe, just off what [Kelly] was talking about yesterday, that everybody has a fair chance to make this squad no matter if you're undersized or not."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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