Raiders safety Johnathan Abram sees more defined role ‘suitable to my talents’ in Gus Bradley defense

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The first couple years of Johnathan Abram’s career have not been ideal. That’s putting it lightly. The star of HBO’s Hard Knocks in his rookie camp brought high expectations. Those hopes ended a few snaps into his first start when he was lost for the season with a shoulder injury.

His return for his ‘redshirt rookie season’ in 2020 took a huge hit before it even started. The pandemic meant no offseason practices and a weird training camp that appeared to have most of the team out of sorts. The defense especially.

All too often Abram seemed to be trying too hard and sometimes thinking he needed to do other players’ jobs, even if that may not have been the case.

The big hitting safety was also clearly wasn’t playing fast in former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s defense. A defense that doesn’t put a defined role on its safeties; seeing them as interchangeable. Something that will change under new DC Gus Bradley. It’s a welcome change for Abram.

“I’m going down to what they call the box safety/strong safety. It’s interesting going from what we went through last year playing a lot of spread safety, playing high. This year I feel like it’s going to be more suitable to my talents and my strengths, so I look forward to this year and just getting ready to come back. . . and trying to get everything down pat.”

Those talents early on seemed to be laying the wood on ball carriers; something that’s very difficult to do when he has uncertainties. He who hesitates is lost.

Confidence allows defenders to play faster. And a more defined role in a simplified scheme will is what will give him that confidence. This third season for Abram will be critical for his future with the team. It appears he will (finally) be put in the best position to find out what kind of player he can be.

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