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Veteran TE Jimmy Graham makes Saints' initial 53-man roster for 2023 NFL season

Jimmy Graham's strong performance in New Orleans' preseason finale earned him a place on the Saints' initial 53-man roster.

This wasn't a charity spot for a past franchise hero. Saints head coach Dennis Allen put Graham to the test, and the veteran delivered, catching three passes for 34 yards and a touchdown in this past weekend's preseason finale that can only be described as vintage Graham.

Graham previously missed the Saints' second preseason game after what the club defined as a "medical episode" likely involving a seizure in Los Angeles, putting more importance on his Sunday performance against the Texans.

Like a fine wine, Graham's post-up job went smoothly, as he boxed out a defender and caught a high pass from Jameis Winston for six points. Two days later, New Orleans' decisions on cutdown day stated a clear message: This bottle was worth bringing from the darkness of the cellar into the light.

"I started to see signs of what I was looking for out in L.A. in the practices against the Chargers," Allen said on Tuesday of Graham's performance during the preseason, per NewOrleans.Football. "I think that continued into last week's practice and on into the game. So I'd say the last 14 days have been important in terms of his ability to be a part of this team."

Two months ago, such an outcome would have been laughable. Graham didn't play anywhere in 2022 and was largely forgotten, a relic of a past era in which former basketball players were just starting to prove they'd make for useful tight ends in the NFL.

His return to the Saints, in fact, was largely perceived as a move related to a possible retirement. As the football world soon learned, it was anything but that. And now, thanks to a preseason in which he demonstrated he still brings value to an NFL team, Graham has a spot in the place where his journey began more than a decade ago.

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