Earnest Graham Talks Draft, QBs And More

May 8th, 2009
Earnest Graham talked to Joe about the Bucs quarterbacks, leadership and more.

Earnest Graham talked to Joe about the Bucs QBs, leadership and more.

Joe proudly presents Part II of his exclusive interview with Earnest Graham. The first installment, focusing on Graham’s charitable endeavors, was published this morning.

Here Graham talks football — the new offense, Percy Harvin, quarterbacks and more.

Joe: What are your impressions of the new playbook and do you see this offense being a better fit for you?
Earnest Graham: “Simplicity goes a long way in football, especially the way the game is played these days. The new offense allows us (running backs) to will ourselves on an opponent, with a huge emphasis on the running game. Really, we can impose our will on the defense. That’s the way football’s being played successfully a lot these days, the Steelers, the Ravens, taking it to opponents on the ground and playing tough defense. For the Buccaneers now it’s no longer hit or miss for the running game. The running back has options, has some freedom with his vision to do some things compared to what we had before. And I’m excited about that. You watch Denver and Altanta, the way they’ve had success on the ground. and that’s how we’re going to be running the ball. ”
Joe: Last year Chucky used you at fullback from time to time. Will you see more, or any, playing time at fullback? Could that be part of your role in the new offense?
Graham: “I’d play linebacker, really, anywhere. I try to see myself as a football player. Any aspect I can do to help the team. That’s my mentality all the time. I take great pride in being versatile. My whole career has been about versatility and being ready to play anywhere on the field. We’ll see what the season brings.”
Joe: Mark Dominik and Coach Morris have talked to the media about the change in leadership on the Bucs, with the absence of Derrick Brooks, especially. Dominik even talked about drafting players with an eye toward leadership qualities. What’s your take on all this leadership stuff and how it might shake out?

Graham:  “It’s going to take care of itself. You can’t make a guy a leader or push him into it. Every team has leaders who fall into place. We’ll see who that guy is going to be, without Derrick [Brooks], Warrick [Dunn] and Ike [Hilliard] and some other guys, we’ll see who is going to take over for them vocally, as well as leading on the field.”

Joe: Do you expect to be a team leader?

Graham: “I definitely hope to be one of those guys.”

Joe: You mentioned “other guys” as leaders during last season. Who would you say was the Bucs’ primary leader in 2008?

Graham: Jeff Garcia was definitely the unquestioned leader on the football field. He was the absolute leader in motivating guys and demanding the most from everyone out there for the offense. He knew how to lead.

Joe: You were quoted a while back talking up Luke McCown and how well you think he’ll perform. Are you still pulling for him to the No. 1 guy, and how do you think he’ll handle the pressure of having Josh Freeman on the roster?

Graham: “I think Luke will handle the pressure fine. Competition makes us all better. And it’s been set up for a lot of competition at quarterback. The guys do know, and I know, that Luke has those characteristics that make him ready to be a leader at the quarterback position. We know Byron has those characteristics. The two Josh’s, they will need to show that. But they’ll get a chance. Players will root for different guys to win the starting job for different reasons. That just happens in this kind of situation. And that’s OK. Guys will like Luke in different ways than they like Byron. There’s no absolute answer now, but the guy who wins the job has to be ready to be the leader. And you can be sure whoever wins the job, [the players] will be rooting for him to be ready and they’ll support him.”

Joe: As a Gator, were you hoping that somehow the Bucs would draft Percy Harvin?

Graham: “Oh, man. I would have loved to have him on our team. He’s a strong fast kid with the best first step I’ve ever season. I would have liked to have him there in the first round. I watched the two rounds of the draft. … Minnesota got a heck of a player. He should do some great things for them. We got Josh Freeman, and he’s got the stature and the skills. I think we definitely got the most talented player as far as the quarterbacks are concerned in the draft. He can throw the ball. He has the raw talent to do it all. I’m looking forward to seeing him in camp.”

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