GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Jimmy Graham almost found himself in Wisconsin coming out of high school.
Until he decided that he'd never be able to get used to the winters.
Graham, a North Carolina native who went to the University of Miami, had a scholarship offer to play basketball for the Badgers.
"I remember seeing all the pictures of it in the summer and how gorgeous it was, and they were rattling off all these stats," Graham recalled. "And then I saw a picture of it in the winters. I didn't know lakes froze."
Winter hasn't hit Green Bay yet, but nearly 15 years later, Graham has adjusted to his new NFL home.
Two games into his Packers career, and the veteran tight has seen two different approaches from opposing defenses. The Chicago Bears doubled him like crazy, especially in the red zone, in the season opener and limited him to just two catches for 8 yards. But receivers Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison combined for 19 catches, 299 yards and three touchdowns.
Whichever way the Washington Redskins play him in Game 3 on Sunday, he seems fine with it.
"I was pretty shocked, honestly, with how [the Bears] were guarding me, taking safeties in the middle of the field and chipping me on the line basically from the very beginning," Graham said. "The first few plays, it was kind of shocking. I was like, ‘Don't you want to rush the quarterback?' But that's what I feel like I'm here for -- to kind of open things up, and if the middle's open, to punish them. And if they're going to close it down, then it's one-on-one on the outside. ‘Tae, Cobb, our whole receiver group, one-on-one, they're very, very dangerous. Especially with [Aaron Rodgers] getting them the ball."
The Packers signed Graham to a three-year, $30 million deal in free agency with the hope that the 31-year-old could resurrect his career in a pass-happy offense unlike the one he played in with the Seattle Seahawks the previous three seasons. He hasn't spoken much since he arrived; Friday's session with reporters was just his third since he signed and first since July 28 (he received a warning letter from the NFL this week that he's violating the NFL's media policy and could be fined), so it's tough to tell exactly what he thinks of his new surroundings, but his team seems pleased with his start.
"I think he had, what, six catches and 90-some-odd yards; that's a pretty productive day for a tight end. That projects pretty good out if you project that out for a season," Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "Obviously, he had the one touchdown called back. Would love for him to score touchdowns -- you can add that to this week's to-do list. Again, I like what he's brought to the offense in a lot of different areas, not just the receiving capability, the big body down the middle. It's a common thing that football people like to talk about, about a big target. The guy's a football player, he's a team player, he's acclimated well to the locker room, to the scheme offensively. Hopefully we can continue to get solid performances out of him week in and week out."