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Raiders

NAPA – Safety Johnathan Abram could’ve finished Monday’s practice with two interceptions.

Dropped 'em both, and that might prove costly. The Raiders’ first-round draft pick promised to ante up for every golden opportunity missed, and linebacker Vontaze Burfict reminded him of that with a little helmet tap.

“He said he’d give $1,000 for every pick he drops,” Burfict said after Monday’s practice. “So, right now, he has $2,000 in the pot.”

The Raiders bet Abram won't miss many when it counts. Right now, they are learning that Abram always plays aggressive, hits hard and talks some trash. Like, a lot.

“Reminds me of me,” Burfict said. “He talks a bit more than me, though. Sometimes I have to tell him to shut up in the huddle, but yeah. He backs it up. You can talk as much as you want, as long as you back it up.”

That’s the important thing. Abram has confidence to spare, gained through hard work applying undeniable talent. He fits right into the NFL game, and has looked comfortable since joining the first-team defense during the offseason program.

Abram is also football savvy, able to quickly absorb and execute Paul Guenther’s defense. Head coach Jon Gruden joked he might have to switch hotel rooms to avoid seeing Abram so much, proof of his relentless quest for knowledge.

 

“He has been really good, and he’s very smart,” fellow first-round draft pick Clelin Ferrell said. “People think that, because he has the country voice and he’s from Mississippi, people think he isn’t smart, but he’s one of the smartest people when you walk out on the field. He takes pride in learning every aspect of the defense.”

Abram learns it and tells anyone who will listen how he’s going to beat the opposition with it.

“He’s so aggressive sometimes that I have to tell him to hold it back and say, ‘That’s your own team,’” Burfict said. “He’s young, talented and aggressive. I can’t wait to see him play in games.”

Games, even in the preseason, are still a ways off. Abram is finding ways to release some energy waiting for those moments, and has made several nice plays in camp. He has impressed most everyone in Raiders camp, creating the widespread belief that he’ll be special player.

“I think he’s going to be great, by the way,” linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “He’s going to be a baller. He’s a ball hawk, and I know he can hit. He’s fast and smart. He’s picking up the defense quickly. He’s operating at a high level in camp, so I look forward to big things from him.”

[RELATED: Burfict ready to lead Raiders' defense]

Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia has already given him a nickname, which ties both to his alma mater and his football playing style. It seems like it’s going to fit.

“Oh, Bulldog? Bulldog has been great,” Ferrell said. “He doesn’t take any stuff from nobody. He isn’t afraid to speak his mind, even though some of it is crazy.”