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Graham ready to hit somebody

Tyson Graham will play in his first game with the Dragons after missing the season opener with a hand injury.

SEATTLE -- Tyson Graham is ready to go out and hit someone.

After being forced to miss the Dragons’ inaugural game with a hand injury, the safety is champing at the bit to get the opportunity to do what he does best -- deliver big hits.

“It was definitely tough, just the anticipation of being able to prepare for a game, it was tough being left behind, not being out there with my brothers,” Graham said. “They were well prepared, but I’m looking forward to this week, as far as getting out there and going to battle with those guys.”

Tony Softli, the Dragons director of player personnel, compared Graham to a player Seattle fans know well, Kam Chancellor, the type of safety capable of coming up to help stop the run, while also lurking in the secondary as a threat to any receivers crossing over the middle.

“That’s just my game, just being physical,” he said. “That’s a trait I try to bring to the team, my physicality and toughness. I’m just going to club this thing up (his injured hand) and be ready to go.”

After hurting his hand in training camp, Graham had been limited in practice, so there was a noticeable change in his demeanor this week, knowing he was ready to compete in the Dragons’ home opener at CenturyLink Field against Tampa Bay on Saturday.

“I try not to think about it,” he said, when asked about his hand. “I’m just playing. I’m just excited to get on the field and make some plays, show everyone what I can do.”

Graham grew up in South Florida, not too far from former Michigan standout Denard Robinson, the athlete affectionately known as “Shoelace.” In fact, the two Broward County products were teammates with the Atlanta Legends in the AAF last season.  

“We’re good friends,” he said.

After finishing up his high school career, Graham ended up at the University of South Dakota. He was recruited to play receiver, but eventually transitioned to safety.

“When I went up there, I didn’t start playing safety till my redshirt sophomore year,” he said. “Before that, I had never really thought about South Dakota. That was probably the furthest thing on my mind as far as going to school.”

During his time with the Coyotes, he learned about competing in the cold.

“That prepared me for anything,” Graham said. “After that experience, I’m able to play in any weather.”

So, a little rain during practice on a chilly Seattle day is no problem for Graham.

“We had to practice in worse conditions than this,” he said.

From Florida to South Dakota and then several NFL opportunities before landing in the AAF, Graham has taken a circuitous path to the XFL and the Dragons. And that was before the hand injury.

Now the safety just wants to play football.

“I’m just ready to go out there, have some fun and lay the wood,” he said.