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Patrick Graham settles in at the Senior Bowl, his first career head coaching experience 

This week has been Patrick Graham's first experience as a head coach in his coaching career.

The former Yale defensive lineman has risen up the coaching ranks since becoming a defensive line coach at the University of Richmond in 2004. He's currently in his third stint as a NFL defensive coordinator, arriving to the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022 after one season with the Miami Dolphins and two seasons with the New York Giants in the same capacity.

The Senior Bowl rearranged its coaching staff for 2023, making it the first time the entirety of a team's coaching staff hasn't been from one franchise. This newly implemented "coach up" format has allowed coordinators and assistant coaches from various clubs to be placed into elevated or different roles from the ones they currently hold.

Graham was nominated by Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler to be serve as a head coach in the collegiate showcase, with the Senior Bowl committee selecting him to head upt the National Team.

"[I'm] excited that they were willing to do that for me," Graham said. "Again, it also provides us with a head start. It's reassuring to know that they trust me to send me here, possibly get a jump start on the evaluation process.

"Those guys have been great to me, so I'm real appreciative of that."

At the Senior Bowl, Ziegler gave a strong endorsement to Graham for the job he's done with the Raiders defensive unit. He also believes there's more to come for the defensive coordinator in the future.

"We think very highly of Pat," said Ziegler. "He's very intelligent, he's a hard worker. I've been very impressed with his ability to self-reflect this year and make adjustments. And make improvements whether it's from a teaching style or from a schematic area to making some adjustments on the run.

"We felt like Pat has a lot of the qualities to be a head coach in this league, and we thought this would give him great perspective and a great opportunity to jump into those shoes more so than he's had the opportunity to do so in the past. It's something that he's earned and we have a great deal of respect for him because of that."

As for Graham, it's been a bit of adjustment settling in as a head coach for the week. He's noticed his usual "blinders" for the defense slightly come down throughout practices, while developing a larger attention to detail on offense and special teams as well.

"It's cool, it's cool," Graham said with a chuckle. "I've been compartmentalizing things going from offense to defense to special teams. Aside from the football side of things, it's just been organizing everything. It's good experience."

The adjustment didn't take much time for him to make though, visibly becoming more comfortable in his role heading into the Senior Bowl this Saturday.

View photos of the Las Vegas Raiders' Pro Bowlers during the 2023 Skills Challenge at Raiders HQ.

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