Bears' Jimmy Graham and Deon Bush exchange punches in practice

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Bears' Jimmy Graham and Deon Bush exchange punches in practice

New Chicago Bears tight end Jimmy Graham admits he has heard all the criticism and he says this year he is on a mission to prove the doubters wrong. In March, the Green Bay Packers released five-time Pro Bowl tight end Graham after a disappointing 2019 season, in which he caught just 38 passes for 447 yards.

"I have a lot to prove," Graham said Thursday during a Zoom call with Chicago media, per ESPN. "I mean, I have a big chip on my shoulder to do as best as I can with this new opportunity. I'm extremely blessed to be here with such a young group of guys that are so hungry.

I know you guys aren't in this locker room, but you can feel the buzz. You can feel the buzz in this building. There's no excuses. No one is looking around and saying we got to do this, we got to do that. This organization has done a great job to keep us all healthy, to hold us all accountable.

And to make sure that on these off days, we're accountable. "To me, this might be the most special time because I want to retire here, and this is where I want to end it. There's only one way to end it. Hopefully, that's winning that final game."

Graham got into a scuffle with safety Deon Bush

Per ESPN, in three padded practices, Graham has been absolutely great and dominating defenders on the team -- which suggests he has still got the game. Earlier this week, Graham got into a brief scuffle with Bush and the two exchanged punches after the safety tackled the tight end during a full team period.

But Bears coach Matt Nagy says that's the drive and energy he wants his team to bring in every day. "That's energy. ... That's the swagger that we need on offense," Nagy said. "We need that energy. That guy that has that fire, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Jimmy's an experienced vet. He's been through a lot. I think the guys on our team, not just our offense, are respecting that and liking that." ".. I don't think Jimmy has anything to prove. But right now, I think he's at a point in his career where he wants to do everything he can to be on a championship team.

None of this has anything to do with proving people wrong, in my opinion. When you play this game for a long time, like Jimmy, you want to win a Super Bowl. The longer you're in this league and it doesn't happen, the more you want it.

I just love the kind of shape Jimmy is in, where he's at mentally, the kind of mentor he's been to these younger guys. He's leading by example."