With the Buffalo Bills taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars it’s not surprising that this weekend we’ll see two of the NFL’s leading tacklers on the field at Wembley.
Both teams have defensive-minded coaches and they each boast a defender ranked amongst the top five tacklers in the league coming into Week 7.
We spoke exclusively to Bills safety Corey Graham ahead of the Jags game. Graham is ranked fifth in total tackles so far this season with 55, four behind Jacksonville’s linebacker Telvin Smith (ranked second overall).
“Stats don’t mean that much to me, but it’s good” said Graham when asked about his performances up until now. “For me it’s about finding a way to win, I’m in a new position (safety), so I guess it’s good that I’m getting a lot of tackles.”
Just four tackles behind the former Super Bowl winner is team mate, linebacker, Preston Brown. So is there much competition between them? “There’s not much rivalry, I think it means a lot more to him because he’s a linebacker, they pride themselves on things like that.”
But don’t let the 2011 Pro Bowler kid you, Graham quickly added, “since you’ve mentioned it I would like to beat him though.”
“I do set myself targets each year and tackles are one of them, but they’re not the most important goals for me” explained the safety who was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fifth round in 2007.
Corey Graham spent four years with the Bears before signing for the Ravens in 2012. Also a solid special team player, he won Super Bowl XLVII that year in the memorable 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans. He joined the Bills in 2014.
Buffalo landed in the UK on Monday morning. Jetlag is an issue for teams crossing the five time zones to get here, so for Graham sleep was essential, “I tried to sleep as much as possible (on the flight) because I knew I was going to be tired once I got here.”
“I listened to a bit of music. I watched a movie here and there but not much, I just wanted some shut eye!” Graham told us.
Not everyone can ride first class, but did the eight year veteran? “Yeah baby.” He added, “I don’t know who makes the decision but some of us get to fly in first, some don’t.”
“You board the plane and sit and hope you get a good seat.”
The Bills head to Wembley 3&3 for the season. Their record within the AFC is a winning one at 3&2. Graham said it’s a positive, “It’s very important you beat the teams in your conference. Obviously in the AFC every win you can get is important and we know that this game is big.”
The safety didn’t practice on Thursday, but head coach Rex Ryan confirmed that he will play this weekend. When Graham steps under the Wembley arch there will be just one thing on his mind, winning. “We’ve just come off a loss, we’ve got a bad taste in our mouths and we’re hungry to get another win on Sunday”