Packers notes: Jimmy Graham takes pride in run-blocking ability
GREEN BAY - Through nine games, Jimmy Graham is on pace to put up one of the more productive seasons by a tight end in Green Bay Packers history.
Should his per-game averages play out over the last seven weeks, he’ll finish with 59 catches for 781 yards and four touchdowns. Such catch and yardage totals would place him second to Jermichael Finley, who caught 61 balls in 2012 and recorded 767 yards in 2011.
But such numbers bear more of a resemblance to the production Graham had in Seattle the last three seasons than his first five in New Orleans. From 2015-17 with the Seahawks, Graham averaged 57 receptions, 683 yards and six touchdowns while going to two Pro Bowls. In two of those seasons the Seahawks finished in the top 10 in the league in rushing.
On Sunday, Graham was a key figure in the run game, blocking up long runs for Aaron Jones.
GRADES: Position evaluation vs. Dolphins
“I know everybody knows me for just running go routes and snagging touchdowns but I think I’ve dedicated myself to the run, to being a big part of that because I am a tight end now,” Graham said. “For us to be successful I’ve got to do those things and I’ve got to be good at ‘em. I’m always trying to improve on it and I take pride in it. A couple of those big plays, a bunch of ‘em, I was in there making some pretty big blocks against a d-line that’s really good. Just kind of shows me that I’ve been doing right and going in the right direction. If they call my number to go out there and run a double move or if it’s to block anybody, I’m going to do the job to the best of my ability. And I take pride in it. Just like I do scoring touchdown.”
Thursday will also mark Graham’s return to CenturyLink Field.
“I had some great moments in that stadium and some great memories with the players and coaches over there,” he said. “For me, it’s just work. I’m going to go out there and try to give it my best like I did (Sunday) and just do what’s asked of me and just be ready.”
That said, he acknowledged there will be an added bit of emotion to the return. Seahawks owner Paul Allen died Oct. 15, and after the Packers’ Monday night win that night over San Francisco Graham made sure to take time to speak about Allen and his impact.
“It being so fresh, I talked to a lot of people kind of in that building about him,” Graham said. “He meant a lot to me. It’ll be tough.”
Timing an issue with blocked punt
Early in the third quarter Sunday, the Miami Dolphins overloaded the right side of the Packers’ punt protection unit in an effort to get to rookie punter JK Scott. The scheme was successful, as Oren Burks and Raven Greene were forced to try to block three Dolphins.
Scott deferred any schematic questions to coordinator Ron Zook, but said he can help avoid future issues with proper timing
“That’s one thing that we continue to work is touch-to-toe and getting the ball off faster, and I can always improve on that, getting it off quicker and do my part to make sure those things don’t happen,” Scott said.
It was the first punt block the Packers had allowed in 2018 and the first since Tim Masthay had two blocked in the 2014 season.
Scott had one punt blocked in each of his three seasons at Alabama.
After notching six sacks against the Dolphins, the Packers' defense was in first place in the NFL in sacks per play. Their total of 31 sacks is tied with three other teams for the NFL lead.
What makes the stat most remarkable is that no one on defense has more than five sacks. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark and outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell are tied for the team lead and rank tied for 29th in the league in individual rankings with five apiece.
Next is inside linebacker Blake Martinez with four and outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Reggie Gilbert with 2½ apiece.
“Coach has been doing a great job with dialing up blitzes,” Clark said of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. “We’re getting guys off the field on third down. When we get up, and we know it’s pass, and we get a chance to rush the passer, guys are winning their matchups and exploiting the matchups we have.
“We’re just doing a good job of dialing up some blitzes and tricking some offenses.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy has decided to take the team out to Seattle on Tuesday, two days before the game rather than the customary day before.
He did the same thing for the West Coast trip to Los Angeles.
Monday was more of a recovery day for the team, but players had to do strength and conditioning work and attend meetings for the weekly game plan. There was no official practice.
“(Tuesday) we’ll treat it like a Thursday schedule, in-season Thursday and then we’ll travel to Seattle,” McCarthy said. “Then Wednesday will be more, as much as we can, more on a Saturday-type schedule up there and then have some additional meetings.”
The Seahawks don’t have it much easier. They had to play on the road Sunday and probably didn’t get home until late in the evening.