OTA Day I Notes: Graham: 'I'm a bust'

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OTA Day I Notes: Graham: 'I'm a bust'

You think hes a bust?

Brandon Graham agrees.

I haven't done anything really, Graham said Tuesday. Right now, I'm a bust, so I'm going to deal with that. I'm a bust and I'm going to keep being a bust, even when I make plays. I'm going to still act like I'm a bust, you know what I'm saying?

Theres an element of sarcasm when Graham says all this, but the former first-round pick knows that its up to him to shed the label hes stuck with at the moment.

Graham had three sacks as a rookie before suffering a late-season ACL tear that not only wiped out the rest of his 2010 season but also rendered him ineffective last year in the three games he got into.

Coming back, I still wasn't as in shape as I needed to be, he said after Day 1 of full-team OTAs at the NovaCare Complex. Just getting a whole year and a half under my belt, now I don't really think about my knee as I did when I was coming back. That's what I was doing a lot, I was favoring it.

Now, I just go as hard as I can and just take it one day, just keep getting better. Just keep working on the little things that I need to work on from that year and last year.

This and that
The rookies were here for a few days last week, but this was the first practice as an Eagle for former Houston Texan DeMeco Ryans, who the Eagles acquired during the offseason to play middle linebacker. Ryans said for him, the OTAs are particularly important.

We didnt get these last year, so its important to get your feet under you and learn the defense and get all of the details of the defense down and inside and out, he said. Its very good for us to get these OTAs in. Im hitting the ground running and not slowed down by any injuries or anything like that. Im happy to be out here and able to be running full speed out here with the guys.

Tight end Brent Celek, who had off-season sports hernia surgery, was expected to be limited but seemed to participate in all the drills on Tuesday.

These OTAs arent mandatory, and veteran defensive linemen Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins were both absent. Rookie Cliff Harris was also missing, since his class at Oregon hasnt graduated yet, and NCAA rules prevent college players from attending before their class has graduated.

Trent Edwards struggled throwing the football throughout the practice ... Day 1 highlight was Michael Vicks 30-yard dart through traffic to Jeremy Maclin running down the seam ... Unlike previous OTAs and minicamps, players are banned by NFL rules from taking extra work with their position coaches after practice. The workouts are strictly timed, according to the regulations in the new CBA, and every player has to be off the field when the time is up.

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

LSU PG Tim Quarterman on Ben Simmons: 'He's a great teammate'

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LSU PG Tim Quarterman on Ben Simmons: 'He's a great teammate'

By now, Tim Quarterman is used to being asked about Ben Simmons.

The former LSU point guard declared for the NBA draft following his junior season and enter the same draft in which Simmons, the freshman phenom, is projected to be the No. 1 or No. 2 pick.

As Quarterman goes through his own pre-draft process, it's inevitable he'll have to field questions about his former teammate he calls “his little brother” along the way.

“He’s a great passer, he can handle the ball and he’s always there to cheer you on,” Quarterman said Monday following a workout with the Sixers on Monday. “He likes for other people to accomplish great accomplishments. He’s a great teammate.”

Simmons came under criticism during his freshman year for “quitting” on the Tigers. The team went 19-14 and failed to make the NCAA Tournament. They also chose not to participate in any other postseason tournaments. Even though Simmons averaged a team-high 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game, there was question over his effort.

Quarterman said that wasn’t the case.

"Ben is a great person, a great player and he's a great competitor, so I don't think throughout the season he ever quit on us," Quarterman said. “I think he continued to play hard. I think us losing frustrated a lot of  us as competitors because we always wanted to win.”

The Sixers have an edge evaluating Simmons. While he grew up thousands of miles from Philadelphia in Australia, it just so happens Brett Brown coached Simmons' father David during his extensive coaching career in Australia. Not only does Brown know Simmons’ family, he still is closely connected to those involved in his basketball career.

“I know the people that have worked with him all across the board,” Brown said. “That’s just one of the benefits of living in the country and 20 minutes from where he grew up for 17 years, short of my Sydney days where it makes it 12 years.”

Of course Quarterman didn't work out with the Sixers just to speak on Simmons. He is also fighting for a place in the NBA as well.

"Tim did a very good job creating for others," Brandon Williams, Sixers vice president of basketball administration, said. "What I'm impressed by is he's such a nuisance defensively, his length and athleticism. Then he showed his ability to create off the bounce."

Jordan Matthews Q&A: Doug vs. Chip; playing outside; Carson Wentz's savvy

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Jordan Matthews Q&A: Doug vs. Chip; playing outside; Carson Wentz's savvy

Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews stopped by the Quick Slants set last week and addressed a number of topics with hosts Derrick Gunn and Reuben Frank.

Matthews, entering his third NFL season, has 152 receptions for 1,869 yards and 16 touchdowns in his first two seasons.

That’s the 10th-most catches, 34th-most yards and 15th-most touchdowns in NFL history by a player in his first two seasons.

Now, he has a new receivers coach, a new offensive coordinator, a new head coach and at some point soon a new quarterback.

Matthews spoke about all of the changes the Eagles have made, his disappointment in his early-season drops last year, his expectations for this year and much more during his visit to the Comcast SportsNet studios.

Here are some highlights from that interview:

Quick Slants: What’s it been like these first few months under new head coach Doug Pederson?

Jordan Matthews: “The family atmosphere has definitely been there. Having a coach that’s played here, he understands what it’s like to be in these shoes, play in the city of Philadelphia and have these high expectations. He’s put us in a great environment these first few weeks.”

QS: What’s been your initial reaction to Doug’s offense and how you’ll be used?

Matthews: “It’s definitely very versatile. We have a lot of situations where guys get to move around a lot more in the previous offense I played in, so that’s something that a lot of us have been excited about. Me in particular, I’m really excited to have the opportunity to go outside as much as inside, so now teams won’t be able to game plan for me in just one area. It’s been great learning it. The verbiage is definitely different. It’s not one word or signs or anything like that. We’re going in the huddle and I mean Sam’s spitting out the whole encyclopedia. But guys are getting it down, guys are learning. We’re having fun with it.”

QS: How tough was it to work through the drops early in the 2015 season?

Matthews: “It’s always frustrating because sometimes you think that, OK, just because you’re putting in all these hours that the immediate results are going to come right then, but that’s the thing about work: It’s not just going in and putting in the hours, but you also have to have faith in what you’re actually doing. Sometimes you’re not going to see those immediate results, sometimes you just have to take time and you just have to be patient with it. But I just know the expectations that I have on myself ... outside expectations I know they’re always big here, but I’m always going to be my hardest critic. So whatever people thought I might have been going through, trust me, I was beating myself up more about it than anybody was. I knew that I wasn’t playing up to my expectations but at the same time I knew I had to get through it, so I was glad I was able to finish the season the way I did but also know that type of play isn’t acceptable for me or for my teammates. That’s why going into these OTAs, I’ve been really big on the details for me and the rest of my receiving group. Getting on the JUGS machine, putting in extra time in the film room, making sure that we know everything we have to do on the field. So now that we know all the X's and O's, all we can focus on then is going out there and making plays and playing fast.”

QS: Can you compare Doug Pederson and Chip Kelly?

Matthews: “It’s crazy. Growing up in Alabama, you’re around a bunch of the country, family guys and that’s definitely Doug. But I also spent some time at Vanderbilt with the smart guys and that’s Chip, so I’ve basically had a Doug Pederson and a Chip Kelly in my lifetime just from my years of playing football. I know people like to compare and do all that kind of stuff, but it’s apples and oranges. Chip, when I was playing for him, he was a new head coach, and now it’s the same way with Doug and he’s going to do some things different than maybe what people (have) seen in the past. But I’ve had great experiences with both of them. I feel like I’m extremely lucky I’ve had the opportunity to work with both these guys.

QS: You’re as close to Sam Bradford as anybody on the team. What do you think of the way he handled the offseason?

Matthews: “Sometimes those situations can be blown up a little bit, especially when it’s the quarterback position because that is looked at as the leader on the field, so Sam understands that responsibility, and Sam understands that when it’s time to ball you’ve got to come out there and you’ve got to be the leader. He took his time that he needed, but at the same time he knew it was time to get back and get to work. Obviously, nobody is going to be thrilled when somebody gets drafted at their position, especially at the No. 2 pick. But it is a business, it is a lot more than just guys going out there and throwing the football around, it is about competition. And I think that’s the best thing that’s going to come out of this: It’s going to really fuel competition. Between Sam, Chase (Daniel) and Carson (Wentz) going out there and taking reps, it’s a good ball coming out there every single time. So if you come to our practices, you’ll see me running with the 1’s, the 2’s and the 3’s and I feel like that’s the best thing about it. Because that competition is really what’s going to help us push forward. Now guys can’t get complacent. You can’t think, ‘Oh, OK, I’ve made it, I’ve arrived.’ No. Every position, we’re bringing in guys that are going to go and compete for your spot. I’m loving it. From quarterback all the way down to long snapper.”

QS: Doug has said all along that Sam is the quarterback going into the season, but offensive coordinator Frank Reich said on WIP that there is open competition everywhere, including the quarterback position. It seems like the coach and offensive coordinator are sending out different messages.

Matthews: “There are different philosophies always going to come from different people. Obviously, Coach Pederson’s the head coach and he’s the captain of the ship, so we’ve got to go with him. I like coach Frank’s attitude, everybody’s got to go out and compete. It’s extremely early, so if anything, I side with both of then. Yes, it’s Sam Bradford’s team. He has to come out and he has to be the leader that we need. He has to run the offense, and we’re all looking at him to make sure he’s the quarterback who can take us where we want to go. But at the same time, you’ve got to come in every single day that somebody’s coming for your spot and you’ve got to go work for it.”

QS: What are your early impressions of Carson Wentz?

Matthews: “When I had my first time watching film with him, the type of shots he was talking about making ... he was like, ‘Hey, if this cornerback turns his head, I might try to throw this one deep,’ and I’m like, ‘Bro, I do not think that’s where the ball’s supposed to be going.’ But ... at the same time, I like it, because you can tell he plays the edge. You can tell he has that chip. You can tell he’s a guy who wants to take risks. I think one of the biggest attributes a quarterback can have that people overlook is savvy. The great ones, the Aaron Rodgerses of the world, the Tom Bradys, the Peyton Mannings, the Brett Favres, those legends, they’re great with the X’s and O’s but they have savvy. They’re not always going to go by the book. Sometimes, they’re just going to go make a play. Sometimes they’re going to say, ‘Hey, you’re my man right here, I’m coming to you, get open, I’m going to find you on the deep ball. And the way Carson was speaking, you can tell he wants to grow into that person and be that kind of quarterback. And then also he’s just a fun guy to be around. He and I were running routes just me and him one afternoon and then he was like, ‘Hey, I want to get some conditioning in.’ And Carson wanted to run routes. He was calling plays, he’s running corners and posts and I’m throwing to him. Everybody sees that serious side to him but he just loves the game. He wants to just be out there on the field, he wants to get to know guys, he also wants to take risks and I feel like he’s going to be really big for us going into the future.”

Joel Embiid is ready to woo free agent superstar Kevin Durant to Sixers

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Joel Embiid is ready to woo free agent superstar Kevin Durant to Sixers

Now that Joel Embiid is #FinallyHealthy -- at least according to himself on his Instagram page -- and OKC Thunder superstar Kevin Durant's season has come to an end, it's time for Embiid to get to recruiting.

Durant potentially jumping to a new team could be franchise changing, both for the new destination and the KD-less Thunder. Embiid knows this, so he's going to do his best to recruit Durant to come play in Philadelphia for the 76ers.

Okay, maybe not that exactly, but Embiid will certainly at least send some goofy tweets about it.

"Time to recruit KD to the Sixers," Embiid tweeted late last night once the Warriors ended the Thunder's season. The words were followed by a couple of praying hands emojis. Sixers fans are very familiar with those.

Sixers fans likely remember Embiid's attempted wooing of LeBron James a couple of summers ago when he eventually opted to head back to Cleveland instead of Miami. Embiid attempted a similar wooing tactic back then and it didn't go so well. But at least Embiid thought he was pretty close.

Right. And Embiid almost got engaged to Kim Kardashian (while she was already married with children to Kanye).

Now, if you want to get pedantic, could Embiid's tweets be viewed as tampering? Since NBA free agency doesn't technically begin until July 1? I suppose it's possible if the NBA has no sense of humor.

I think the real takeaway from all of Embiid's Tweets and Instagram posts is that the big man is in good spirits, hopefully because he sees real progress in his health and will actually play competitive basketball for the Sixers someday.