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Ravens’ Corey Graham says Bears limited him

Corey Graham AP

Corey Graham signed as a free agent with the Ravens during the offseason and has played well, starting eight games at cornerback in the regular season and two more in the playoffs, and intercepting Peyton Manning twice in Baltimore’s upset at Denver. Graham says he could have played that well earlier in his career with the Bears — he just never got the chance.

According to Graham, Bears coach Lovie Smith always viewed him as a special teams player only, and wouldn’t give him a chance to play defense.

“From my rookie year, I was put in the special teams and I felt like I did well at it,” Graham told USA Today. “When they label you as a special teamer, it’s tough to get that label off of you, no matter what you do. . . . Lovie Smith, he loved what I did as a special teamer and that’s what he wanted from me, no matter what. So I could go out and practice, get six interceptions at corner, but no matter what I was going to be Corey Graham, special teamer. That’s just how it was. That’s what he wanted from me, so I went out there and tried to be the best special-teamer I could possibly be.”

Graham says teammate Brendon Ayanbadejo, who also left Chicago to sign in Baltimore, had the same experience.

“In Chicago there was no way [Ayanbadejo] was going to touch the field on defense. There’s no way,” Graham said. “Then I come here and I’m watching games and I’m seeing him out there playing and I’m like, ‘Wow, he’s getting a chance.’ And that’s all you want as a player, is a chance to play.”

Graham is getting that chance now. And making the most of it.

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18 Responses to “Ravens’ Corey Graham says Bears limited him”
  1. nwfisch says: Jan 17, 2013 4:32 PM

    Good for Corey. Lovie always pigeon-holed players or else used square-pegs for round holes.

    Hopefully Graham can get a SB win.

  2. dfeltz says: Jan 17, 2013 4:36 PM

    As a Bears fan, I don’t know what he is talking about. They guy played more than just special teams. Did he expect to start over Tillman? Oh, and Ayanbadejo is a terrible middle linebacker, that is why he is a special teamer and will only be a special teamer.

  3. jakec4 says: Jan 17, 2013 4:39 PM

    He might not be playing special teams here in Baltimore but former first rounder Jimmy Smith sure is. Graham stepped in due to injury to Smith, and never gave the job back. He was a nice find. Him and Jacoby Jones have really been the new difference makers. Justin Tucker too.

  4. nattypoes says: Jan 17, 2013 4:45 PM

    I said it in Week 12 that Corey Graham is our best Corner… People are just now starting to take notice. He’s better than Cary Williams.

  5. comeonnowguys says: Jan 17, 2013 4:52 PM

    I always thought he did do well on special teams.

    Bears had a LOT of great special teamers, and to be labeled “just a special teamer” didn’t have the same stigma that it might have had in the past or on a different team.

    That doesn’t mean he was good enough to crack the lineup at the time. Heck, he couldn’t crack the lineup ahead of Tillman and Jennings now.

  6. anewmein2013 says: Jan 17, 2013 5:02 PM

    Yes, because he could have played over two pro bowl cornerbacks in Chicago (Tillman and Jennings)…he had his chance (he started 9 games in 2008…guess how many INTs he had…1).

    He is a good fit for Baltimore’s system (and he had 2 INTs during the regular season so it wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire)…he wasn’t for the Bears system…

  7. thevza says: Jan 17, 2013 5:04 PM

    As a longtime Bears fan, I was very sad when they let Graham go (though I was happy for him to get a fresh start). He was always one of my favorites, and I always told my friends that he should have been on the field more. He’s a great tackler, and has good instincts, evidenced by the fact that whenever the Bears did let him play he put up good numbers, including INTs. However, I also saw him get burned pretty easily a few times against elite WRs, so he’s not exactly Darrelle Revis. I think Nickelback is the ideal position for him, one which I wish he could still be playing in Chicago!
    As for Ayanbadejo, that was pure stupidity on the Bears’ part to let him walk over a $1 million contract dispute. He was integral to making Devin Hester such a success on return teams, and there was a huge drop off in Hester’s returns after he left the team. And Graham is right, Ayanbadejo is pretty serviceable as a backup LB.
    Well Ravens fans, consider these gains as compensation from Chicago for that Draft day trade fiasco from a few years ago.

  8. ravenator says: Jan 17, 2013 5:06 PM

    Just another stud pickup by Oz and co. Way to play Graham. He goes from being a special teamer on a cancer QB team to a starting corner for a great organization on the verge of a super bowl. Just awesome.

  9. dowhatifeellike says: Jan 17, 2013 5:06 PM

    nattypoes says:
    Jan 17, 2013 4:45 PM
    I said it in Week 12 that Corey Graham is our best Corner… People are just now starting to take notice. He’s better than Cary Williams.

    I’m better than Cary Williams. You’re better than Cary Williams. Dude makes one good play per game and gets torched the rest of the time. Teams target him. He’s a good tackler but only because he creates a lot of practice for himself on Sundays.

  10. mountaingirl39 says: Jan 17, 2013 5:44 PM

    Vonta Leach, Jacoby Jones and Bernard Pollard were dumped by the Texans, Corey Graham dumped by the Bears. All excellent players and the Ravens have reaped the benefits of players who have excelled under our system…..

  11. ruffbufffire says: Jan 17, 2013 5:47 PM

    Buffao born! Turner high

  12. asublimeday says: Jan 17, 2013 6:00 PM

    Wahhhhh

  13. bukenator says: Jan 17, 2013 6:10 PM

    As a New Hampshire alumni, I am proud to see this former Wildcat blossom in the NFL!

  14. larrydavidstern says: Jan 17, 2013 8:24 PM

    “Lovie Smith, he loved what I did as a special teamer and that’s what he wanted from me, no matter what. So I could go out and practice, get six interceptions at corner, but no matter what I was going to be Corey Graham, special teamer.”

    No wonder Lovie Smith got fired and can’t find another job.

  15. jiggy3198 says: Jan 17, 2013 9:16 PM

    I live how best fans talk smack as they continue to dwell in obscurity and not make the playoffs

  16. ravensdominate says: Jan 18, 2013 12:40 AM

    Just to clarify, both these guys got playing time because of injuries.

  17. mute617 says: Jan 18, 2013 7:18 AM

    I was upset when the Bears let both of them go! Same with Daniel Manning & even Al Afalava

  18. lilmiddle78 says: Jan 20, 2013 2:47 AM

    Man it really sucks to hear Corey making comments like these!! We all know that he was the third best, sometimes the fourth best corner on the team with the Bears. But Lovie and his staff always found his strong suites and always installed packages to get Graham on the field in passing situations. Every camp Lovie talked him up as though it might be the year he could become starter, but Corey never got himself over that hump!! Truth of the matter is that Graham was always one of “Lovie’s Guys” and he tried to keep him a Bear for as long as he could!!

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