May 14, 2008
I’ve kind of had a bad feeling about Earnest Graham all year, starting when Graham began pining for a new contract. He’s still not with the team, as he protests his low salary, which is a big mistake. Graham did a heck of a job last year, but guys him — guys who languish on the bench for years and come up with a big season — come around and then disappear all the time (see Nick Goings a few years ago). As may know we put up our initial batch of projections yesterday, and I slotted Graham at #22 at RB. But right after posting the projections, I took a call from Rick Stroud from the St. Petersburgh Times for our “32 Writers answer 32 questions” article for our magazine. After taking the call and asking him a question about the Bucs, and about Graham, I’m planning on moving Graham down a couple of spots.Here’s the Q & A:
FG.com: RB Earnest Graham was a great story last year, yet he was still a career deep backup prior to 2007, and the team did add veteran Warrick Dunn, so should those expecting a repeat performance from Graham temper expectations?
Stroud: I would temper the expectations for a couple of reasons. For one, Dunn, who should see the field a lot. Michael Bennett was re-signed and he’s a back who brings them a lot of speed and playmaking ability. When he was traded here last year he didn’t have enough time to pick up the system so he should be more effective as a runner this year with a full off-season in the system. And Graham quite frankly is in his last year of his contract and has not appeared in the OTAs so far (mid-May) and if you’re not here it’s hard to maintain your status as the top back. All that said, when you’re near the goal, they may turn to Graham to score TDs for them. But as far as him being the clear featured back, I’m not sure and think there could be a committee approach. I really don’t expect much from Carnell Williams. He won’t be ready for training camp and will be on the PUP. Maybe by midseason he’ll be ready but it’s risky to assume Williams will be a factor at all.