By Samuel Njoku
Corey Graham, CB, #24
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
College: New Hampshire
Experience: 6 years
When the Ravens started the NFL season, many suspected them to have the best secondary in the league. With Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed at the safety position, Baltimore’s cornerbacks were able to play with confidence knowing that there was help if needed. With Lardarius Webb tearing his ACL and Jimmy Smith out for an extended amount of time with a groin injury, the Ravens top secondary quickly turned into a thin unit. Thankfully for Baltimore, Corey Graham has stepped up to provide much needed relief. For all intents and purposes, Graham play in the secondary may have saved their season.
Corey Graham played college at New Hampshire before being drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 5th round of the 2007 NFL Draft. It was there he made a name for himself as a special-teams ace. Already having one star in Devin Hester, Chicago would field one of the best units in the NFL primarily because of what Graham was able to do on the football field. Graham became one of the best gunners in the NFL. He produced big time making huge plays almost every week. Chicago coveted the star player, but Graham wanted more.
And after 5 years in a Chicago Bears uniform, Graham was left with no option but to move on. The Ravens saw potential in Graham. They saw the impact he could have on special teams. But some in the organization thought he could make an impact on the defensive unit. Something Graham didn’t get a chance to show in Chicago.
“I didn’t think I would get an opportunity in Chicago,” Graham told reporters. “It wasn’t going my way. I wanted to go somewhere else get a fresh start, let some new eyes see me and hopefully get an opportunity to get a chance to play.”
When asked why he wasn’t able to get an opportunity, Graham explained that he was being type-casted in a way because of his production on special teams.
“That’s just what (Bears coach) Lovie (Smith) wanted from me. Even in meetings, that’s all he talked about: ‘Corey is our guy on special teams.’ No matter if I go out there and get six picks in practice, he would say something about special teams. That’s just how it is. It’s not like I don’t want to do special teams. I’ve done it my whole life. I enjoy it, but some situations are better than others.”
And Graham is right. So far in this season, he has blown Baltimore away with how fast he has picked up the defense. Even more so, his ability to cover is a welcomed surprise to a unit that is banged up. The biggest play of the season came against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In a tightly contested matchup, Graham caught an interception in stride that swung the momentum towards Baltimore. Pittsburgh was unable to recover and the Ravens were able to beat their heated rivals in primetime television.
Harbaugh did what Lovie Smith didn’t do in his time in Chicago. Endorse Graham on his defensive success.
“Corey Graham came up big,” Harbaugh said after the game. “He played really well.”
With the way Graham has played, it’ll be hard to keep him off the field on Special Teams. But both Corey Graham and the coaching staff know they have a starting caliber cornerback to work with now.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.