The Raiders had three first-round picks in 2019 but only got to watch two play a significant amount of snaps.
But what was last year’s loss is this year’s gain.
Second-year safety Johnathan Abram suited up for the 2019 season opener against the Broncos, but he was lost for the campaign after he made an impactful hit on his opponent, injuring his shoulder.
Abram, for that one game, lived up to his reputation as a brash, big-hitting safety. He had looked the part at 2019 training camp, as well — when the coaching staff had to consistently remind him to not hit his teammates.
But the former first-round choice is back from his shoulder injury, and his goal this season is to play with the entire campaign in mind, not just one big hit.
“I’m very excited to get back out. I don’t think my biggest concern is rushing back to try to technically lay somebody out. More so, just being smarter this year,” Abram said to reporters on Wednesday. “Making sure that I’m available because the best ability is availability. So, just making sure I stay healthy. That’s my biggest concern this year.”
If Las Vegas is to improve on its 7-9 record from a year ago, it needs its first-round selections to become solid starters. Abram has learned that the NFL season is more of a marathon than a sprint — no doubt with help from Gruden, who is fond of saying that the best ability is availability.
If he can stay on the field, he can enjoy doing what he loves to do, and that’s play football, not rehab from injury.
“The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is just being out there with my teammates and helping the guys get a couple wins and get to the playoffs and do what we need to do to turn this thing around,” he said.
The entire team is likely chomping at the bit to play real football, Abram included. Raiders fans can’t wait to see what he can do, either, and all involved hope the brash safety can maintain his edge and play for an entire season, helping to lead the young defense.
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