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New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham on Pace to Shatter NFL Records

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COMMENTARY | Although the New Orleans Saints offense has struggled at times early in the 2013 NFL season, the one constant through three games has been the stellar play of TE Jimmy Graham.

Through Week 3, Graham has 23 receptions for 358 yards and four TDs. Although three games is a small sample size and it would seem unlikely for Graham to keep up this pace, the Saints TE is on track to catch 123 passes for 1,909 yards and 21 TDs this season. However, this record-setting pace is possible for Graham because (by his standards) he had a subpar game in Week 1 for New Orleans with only four receptions for 45 yards.

Although New Orleans QB Drew Brees is known for spreading the ball around to all the Saints offensive skill players, Jimmy Graham has clearly become his signal caller's favorite target. Graham's size makes it impossible for small defensive backs to cover him and linebackers are too slow to keep pace with him in coverage. As long as Jimmy Graham and Drew Brees stay healthy, the Saints TE is almost certain to break multiple NFL records this season.

Take a closer look at three NFL records that New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham is on pace to break.

Most Single-Season Receiving TDs by a TE (Rob Gronkowski: 17 in 2011)

In 2011, New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham engaged in an epic statistical battle that went down to the final minutes of the NFL regular season. Gronkowski's 17 TD receptions set the NFL record for TEs in a season. Two years later, the Saints are struggling to run the ball, so Brees will be throwing in critical situations. Jimmy Graham's pace of 21 TDs could mean that New Orleans fans will be seeing many goal post dunks in 2013.

Most Single-Season Receptions by a TE (Jason Witten: 110 in 2012)

There is no denying that Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten is QB Tony Romo's favorite target. Even when Graham and Gronkowski were dueling in 2011, neither even reached 100 receptions. But Graham's pace of 123 receptions would put Witten in the Saints TE's rear view mirror in 2013. New Orleans has inexperience and injuries at WR past Marques Colston and Lance Moore, so Drew Brees will be looking for his TE in his own territory and in the red zone.

Most Single-Season Receiving Yards by a TE (Rob Gronkowski: 1,327 in 2011)

Graham and Gronkowski are the only NFL TEs in history to tally at least 1,300 receiving yards in a season. In 2011, Graham fell only 17 yards shy of Gronkowski's incredible 1,327 receiving yards. As amazing as that record is, Graham is on pace for 1,909 receiving yards this season. As I stated earlier, this historic pace is remarkable because it includes a 45-yard effort versus the Falcons. Yards after catch are also a factor in Graham's game for the Saints.

Without question, Jimmy Graham is well on his way to having the greatest season by a TE in NFL history.

Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.

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