Metairie, La. - An ankle injury kept Jimmy Graham from playing in the Saints' dramatic 35-28 victory over the Buccaneers. A streak of slight injuries have slowed Graham throughout the season but he now feels the best he has since training camp.
Here's a copy of his conversation with the media Friday, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Are you feeling more comfortable at this point with how teams are playing you or is a matter of getting over nicks, bumps and bruises?
"As far as injuries go, it's the first time I've been injured. I first got hurt in preseason, so it's been a battle, but I've just tried to keep my head down and things are coming around. I'm feeling a lot faster, especially than when I was a couple of games ago."
You had such a crazy season last year. How frustrating was it to start off slower than last year?
"Extremely frustrating. You know you put the time in, you put the work in for the whole offseason. You feel like you've put yourself in position to make plays and there are balls you aren't getting to and things you aren't doing, because physically you can't."
Are you worried about some of your drops or is that something natural when you get so many passes thrown to you?
"Those were part of some injuries, but I have to catch them. I have to make plays. That's the player I am. That's what you're paid to do. I'm paid to make those plays and I can't make those drops."
How much maturing do you think you've undergone this year as opposed to last?
"Last year was a pretty good year. A little bit, especially though the injuries. I think last year, some injuries would have mentally gotten to me, but this year, I've just stayed the course. I've worked as hard as I could to try to come back to help this team win."
David Thomas is the only other tight end on the active roster as opposed to there being three or four your first two years and part of this year. Do you feel more pressure to do anymore and does that put more on your plate?
"No. It's a little different, because there's only two of us (on the active roster), but he's a veteran and a great leader. To have a great leader like that in your locker room right before the game to encourage you that you're a special player, giving you the confidence. If there's any team that can do it, we definitely can."
Does he tell you you're a special player?
"Me. I'm pretty harmless (joking). I think I'm my own biggest critic. I'm always thinking about things I did wrong, especially when I see missed opportunities. That's can't happen. I have to take advantage of every opportunity I get."
Was the Falcons game the first time you felt 100 percent?
"Yes. It was the first time I felt like that all year. To know that treatment, rehab and everything I've been doing is work is exciting. I'm excited for this team. It's another challenge to (face) this team (Raiders). It's a big, fast team, so I have to be ready."
Have the injuries forced you to re-learn how to take care of yourself?
"It would be different if it was muscles, but it was not. It's things like freak accidents and plays you can't avoid. I've always taken care of my body well and eaten right, doing things I should do. There's just a lot more time involved when you're hurt. You're here at six o'clock in the morning and you stay here late every off day. There really is no break. But, that's just the sacrifice you have to make."
Are things fun again?