With Graham in camp, the real teaching can begin.
Finally, it's happened.
No, I don't mean the Roy Oswalt deal. That's a different team. Finally, the Eagles have signed their first-round pick, defensive end Brandon Graham -- and just in time too.
Coming in now means Graham won't miss any team practices. He did miss the opportunity to get a small head-start with his fellow rookies, but he's a smart enough guy and should be able to make up that lost time as it's mostly mental.
Missing live hitting drills, however, could have held him back all season long. That's the time when these rookies truly get to see the speed of the NFL. Granted, it's against your own teammates, so the speed is dialed down a little, but it gives them a much-needed taste of the difference in speed, size, and athleticism.
It also gives him an opportunity to truly learn the defense through repetition. It's one thing to have your nose in the playbook; it's something completely different to actually get out on the field, listen to the call, read the offense, and make decisions -- within the scheme -- on the fly.
Had Graham missed any of the live team drills, things could have gotten ugly for him. We saw it with Brodrick Bunkley in 2006 and Jeremy Maclin to a lesser degree last year; missing camp can translate in an entire season being a wash.
Or, in Maclin's case, the first few weeks or so, at least.
But now that awful scenario has been avoided, we can all start getting a little giddy about seeing Graham in action. I'll be there to see it first-hand from the sidelines this Saturday when the team suits up and hits for the first time, so be sure to check back for instant updates via Twitter.
Some odds and ends: Graham's deal is five years. Financial terms were not disclosed. The team released wide receiver Blue Cooper to make room for Graham. Also, expect another cut soon as the Birds make room for the newly-signed Jared Perry.