METAIRIE, La. — Jimmy Graham leaped up, floating above the defensive player unlucky enough to be covering him and snared a pass from quarterback Drew Brees with one hand.
The result of the play was a touchdown, an emphatic spike and an eyebrow-raising moment in an offseason generally devoid of them.
Minicamp or not, Graham, the Saints’ record-setting tight end, is ready for 2013.
“Yeah, you know, I’m a hungry player,” Graham said after Tuesday’s morning practice session. “This is probably the hungriest I’ve ever been to kind of right the wrongs of last year and to prove what this team can do and maybe hush up some of the naysayers. So for me it’s all work and doing as much as I can to be the best player I can.”
Though Graham won’t admit it, a wrist injury during the 2012 season hampered him throughout. He was near the top of the dropped-pass list, even leading the category according to ESPN Stats & Information with 14.
He finished 2012 with 328 fewer yards, 14 fewer catches and two fewer touchdowns than in 2011, when he set franchise records for catches in a season by a tight end and fell 18 yards short of setting an NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end.
Graham spent most of last season playing with his left wrist in a brace. He had surgery this offseason to fix the injury, which hasn’t been disclosed.
“I’ve been in rehab and I’ve been getting stronger,” Graham said. “Right now I’m almost 100 percent, so going into camp I’ll be 100 percent. And it just feels good. It feels good to be healthy finally and to be back playing like me.”
Tuesday’s morning practice was a clear indication Graham is backing up his feelings.
Besides the one-handed grab, Graham made several sure-handed catches over the middle and felt comfortable enough to celebrate another score with a chest bump with a teammate.
“I think certainly getting him back after his offseason surgery (is a plus) and I know that he is anxious to get started on this year, but I thought his practice today stood out,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
Graham is now ready to move on from 2012.
“I think everyone in this room wished they could have plays over and wished they could have changed the outcome of last year,” the tight end said. “But that is the past. And that year’s over. And now I’m healthy and just kind of looking for the future and looking to get back in the playoffs.”