More to Jimmy Graham than just one-handed TD catches

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When is a preseason touchdown pass against a scout team defense so important?

When it's an Aaron Rodgers fade to Jimmy Graham during one of the final practices of training camp.

The 6-foot-7 tight end made a one-handed grab that 5-foot-11 safety Marwin Evans could do little about, and then Graham spiked the ball for emphasis. With one play, the red zone drill in practice earlier this week was a success.

It was hardly the first eye-catching play from the Green Bay Packers' marquee free-agent pickup.

To Rodgers, it was a momentous.

"Well, we needed something like that because we've been talking a lot about how he wants those types of fade balls thrown," Rodgers said Monday after the practice. "And we've talked about a number of different ways we can do that. It was nice to be on the same page. He was expecting a ball in that area, and then the athleticism -- I have absolutely nothing to do with that. I'm just trying to put it in an area for him.

"It's pretty impressive to watch. You guys have been here a long time, as have I, [and] it's hard to remember, you know, the consistency and the athleticism from a guy that size. We haven't had that in a while."

But it was a pair of plays earlier in the same drill that showed even more of why Graham has brought to the Packers, according to the coaches.

First, there was the deep crossing route he caught from Rodgers on the first play of the drill.

"Jimmy ran a tremendous seal route," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Then Aaron was right on time with the fastball. Those are the kind of plays you're looking for. That kind of play right there, you put that on your training tape. So that's what this time of year is for, when you start to get that flow and timing down. Especially with a new combination as in Jimmy and Aaron. So those are very important plays. That goes back to the next focus, and that's stack success. You have to put those things together and make sure. It's just like any pass play -- you have to have sound protection, scheme and execution. It's no different than the execution between the quarterback time clock and receiver."

Then, there was the fact that Graham was the first person to rush to receiver Geronimo Allison, who went down after he got the wind knocked out of him following an outstretched catch for a touchdown on the sideline.

"G-Mo made that fantastic catch, and Jimmy was over there checking on him," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "Which is, again, another example of the kind of teammate he is."

Graham hasn't spoken to reporters in the locker room since July 28, the third day of training camp. But during that session, he said he would know that he and Rodgers had built a connection when he found the end zone.

The one-handed catch on the fade was the best example to date of that relationship.

"That was just one; he's done some really good things since the day he got here," Philbin said. "The biggest thing I think that will pay dividends is the type of teammate he is and the way he loves the game of football and is preparing really, really well. It's important to him and guys that think like that, that prepare like that and practice like that. They just find a way to make a big difference and make a big impact. I mean, we all want the touchdown catches and we all want that type of production. But to me, I like the other things. The touchdowns and all that are going to be a byproduct of the kind of guy he is, the love of the game he has."