Bills vs. Saints 2013: Jimmy Graham effect in New Orleans offense

Jimmy Graham is the centerpiece of the New Orleans Saints' ruthlessly efficient offense. Here are just a few ways the Saints utilize his presence to open up field space for the rest of their dynamic playmakers.

On Monday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was "uncertain" to play in Week 8 against the Buffalo Bills, despite the Saints coming off of a Week 7 bye. That report was fortified by Graham's absence from Saints practice on Wednesday, further throwing his availability this Sunday into doubt.

Fantasy implications aside, if Graham can't play against the Bills, it would help out Buffalo's defense tremendously. They have not yet played an offense as dangerous and ruthlessly efficient as the attack led by Drew Brees, and a lot of what the Saints are able to accomplish is set up by Graham's presence. Specifically, they're able to operate their excellent screen game and get the ball into the hands of Darren Sproles by playing off of how defenses try to match up with Graham.

There are 15 stills (covering seven plays) in the All-22 gallery above. The first 11 look at how Graham moves coverages, and show how the Saints have found ways to use Graham's presence to gash defenses with Sproles. The final four stills look at how the Saints are able to set up their screen game off of their base offense; like the Bills, the Saints run a running back-oriented offense, with not just Sproles and Pierre Thomas getting into the mix, but also Khiry Robinson.

New Orleans has a fine backup tight end in veteran Ben Watson, who has made a handful of big plays himself this season. But if Graham can't play against the Bills on Sunday, Sean Payton, Brees and the Saints offense will have to find different ways of freeing up Sproles and the rest of their biggest offensive playmakers.

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