Johnathan Abram isn’t shy. He likes to talk and he likes to hit. As a first-round draft pick, the safety from Mississippi State isn’t just standing by, waiting for his turn. Since the start of training camp, Abram has been going full speed, intent on winning a starting job.
So far, Raiders and coaches love what they see of Abram as an impact player and as a leader. To some, Abram already looks like the kind of player who makes an impact beyond his stat totals.
Through two exhibition games, No. 24 has been a highlight. In limited action over two games, he has three tackles.
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther says Abram is “wise beyond his years” and plays and acts like a veteran. He’s a hard worker in meetings, on the field and in conditioning.
“Just how he prepares, how he studies, how he communicates with the guys on and off the field,” Guenther said Sunday, three days after Oakland’s victory over the Cardinals in exhibition game No. 2. “The thing is not too big for him. The players see that. He doesn’t act like your typical rookie. That’s what I would say jumps out to me.”
To Raiders fans who’ve been watching HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” Abram already seems like a star. Viewers see a talkative, active player who’s had a prime role in early episodes, including one scene in which head coach Jon Gruden got on him for being too physical in drills.
“I love the aggressiveness,” said Gruden to Abram. “That’s why you’re here. But not against our own people.”
Veteran linebacker Vontaze Burfict came over from the Bengals this offseason and is expected to provide some leadership on defense. But Burfict believes Abram, too, can be a leader.
“He has extreme confidence,” Burfict told Raiders.com. “I love it though because he shows it. He shows it in film room and film study. Like today, we had a play and he opened his mouth up and obviously said something in front of the defense that kind of gave me the chills. I don’t want to say it because it’s kind of just in-house, but he’s going to be a great player for us.”
The Raiders, 2-0 in the preseason, return to action Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers.
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