Graham shows he's more than special teamer

Then Lardarius Webb, who had just signed a contract worth a reported $50 million, tore an ACL in the sixth game. His replacement, former first round pick Jimmy Smith, lasted two games before injuring his groin.

Graham stepped into the starting lineup and stayed there even after Smith returned.

"We put him in a game after some injuries, and wow," Ravens secondary coach Teryl Austin said. "I don't see a reason to take him out."

In 11 starts since, Graham has four interceptions, including two against the Broncos' Peyton Manning in an AFC divisional playoff game.

"He has great ball skills," Austin said. "If there is a ball to be caught, he'll catch it. He gives us toughness. He's a really good tackler. Sometimes you don't have to be the fastest guy in the world if you know where you are going and you anticipate."

Graham might not be an Olympic sprinter, but he has what scouts call "competitive speed." You saw it back when he was running down return specialists for the Bears. And you will see it in Super Bowl XLVII when he is covering Michael Crabtree or Randy Moss.

"It has been unreal," Graham said of his opportunity. "That's what you ask for. You wait five years, and I finally get my chance to play on the defense. I couldn't ask for anything more."

Graham is grateful for his time in Chicago. But he had to leave Chicago to become all he could be.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei

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