PHILADELPHIA >> Crowding Brandon Graham’s locker is a pair of crutches and an enormous protective boot. Picture an over-sized stocking hanging from the mantle during the Christmas season.
Between therapeutic treatments the boot houses the right ankle Graham had surgically repaired May 1. The timetable for a return is three months.
“Hopefully by camp I’ll be up and running,” Graham said Thursday. “I’m ahead of schedule right now. The No. 1 thing is to be ready by Week 1.”
Graham is coming off his best NFL season, having registered a career-best 9 1/2 sacks. His strip sack of Tom Brady late in Super Bowl LII — not the Philly-Philly touchdown play — was the signature play of the title game.
Graham wouldn’t amplify the sack by playing the hurt card, much to the chagrin of reporters exhorting him to describe how tough it was playing on a high ankle sprain and a pulled hamstring.
“I just did what I had to do,” Graham said.
Graham is hopeful he and the Eagles can do what he’d like to do and agree to a new contract that makes sense for both sides. The veteran of eight seasons wasn’t lobbying for a deal Thursday. It was more like thinking out loud.
“Once you hit 30, some people get funny,” Graham said. “That’s what I’ve seen. … I know this next deal is going to be potentially my last deal. You just never know. I just want to make sure I get it done right so it works for both ways. For me, playing out this year and hopefully getting something done, I think it will happen as long as I come back from this ankle injury and look better than I did before. Which I’m feeling good about, because everything is going according to plan right now.”
Graham is scheduled to make $7 million in this, the last year of a four-year, $26 million pact. He’s older than just two of the other five guys expected to be prominent in the defensive line rotation, second-year end Derek Barnett and Pro Bowl tackle Fletcher Cox.
Tackle Haloti Ngata is 34 and ends Chris Long (33) and Michael Bennett (32) are on the other side of 30.
The trade for Bennett, who can play inside or outside, has stirred the imagination of Graham, voted second team All-Pro last year.
“I’m curious to see how we’re going to do it,” Graham said. “I don’t think it’s a bad problem to have. I love playing outside. He can play inside. We can switch it off. That’s how me and Vinny (Curry) used to do it. I would be like I’ll stay outside, you go inside.”
Graham appreciates security but is OK playing out the final year of his contract. He knows what he can do. All he has to do to see what he’s worth is look around the league.
“I’ll let stuff happen the way it’s supposed to happen,” Graham said. “We’ve got a great team to do it again. I’m hoping to be a part of it because we’ve got an open window right now to go back-to-back. We’ll get it down however it goes.”
Receiver Greg Ward was helped off the field Friday after crashing hard to the ground following a midair collision with Rasul Douglas.
Malcolm Jenkins also was in on the coverage of a deep ball thrown by Carson Wentz.
Ward was face down on the grass and didn’t move for several moments before being helped to his feet. He appeared woozy. That was the end of his day.
Several Eagles didn’t practice including Joe Walker, Donnell Pumphrey, Tim Jernigan (back), Brandon Graham (ankle) and Sidney Jones.
Absent from the voluntary practice: Fletcher Cox, Nigel Bradham, Michael Bennet, Haloti Ngata and Darren Sproles.
A contingent of Milwaukee Brewers watched the Eagles’ OTA Thursday, a list that included All-Star pitcher Corey Knebel.
The Brewers (37-25) oppose the Phillies (32-27) Friday through Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.
After practice, the Brewers hung around to connect with Chris Maragos, who was born in Racine, Wisc. and starred at Wisconsin.
Maragos gave them a tour of the locker room.