Johnathan Abram spent his first Raiders offseason program trying to listen, absorb and process as much as humanly possible. Picking up a somewhat complex defensive scheme would help him hit the ground running when training camp begins this summer.
The first-round safety is active in meetings, vocal in practices and was confident helping run the first unit in later OTAs and minicamp. All that has helped him put a solid foot forward.
“What I’m really impressed by is just how he has been able to get this defense down,” fellow safety Karl Joseph said. “For a young guy to come in and be able to understand all the stuff and rules in this defense, that’s pretty impressive. He’s been doing a great job.”
Abram will be the first to admit he hasn’t been perfect in this offseason. That’s odd coming from someone exuding confidence and a proportionate amount of swagger, but the Mississippi State alum is not afraid to be wrong. That, in itself, is an asset.
“I have a lot to learn,” Abram said. “I’m more so worried about what to expect from offenses. I do a very great job of going home, watching film, studying, I take a lot of mental reps. I put myself out there in meetings, making calls and if I’m wrong, then I’m wrong and coach will correct me as we go through it.”
Abram also is aware of a real possibility he’ll start right away. That’s no easy task for a rookie, even someone drafted as high as No. 27 overall. The Raiders have Erik Harris waiting in the wings, and Lamarcus Joyner can rotate in at safety after focusing on slot cornerback during the offseason program.
Abram has listened closely to Joyner, a player he studied in college and loves playing with as a professional even if they haven’t been next to each other at safety. He hangs on Joyner’s words in practice and meetings, and even pays attention to what the veteran says in public.
“Lamarcus can pretty much do it all,” Abram said. “He does a great job mentoring me, making sure I keep my feet where I am. I heard him say that once in the press conference over here and that’s the one thing I have been focusing on – just being where I’m at every single day and not looking so far ahead.”
The offseason program and the extra week of rookie orientation now are over, meaning players are free to relax until training camp starts for rookies first and then the full squad in late July.
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Abram doesn’t plan on taking much time off, despite spending most of the offseason preparing for the NFL draft.
“I’m not nearly where I need to be, so I want to make sure I can try and get as close as I can going into training camp and be in the best shape possible,” Abram said. “Just making sure I’m super crisp with the playbook. That’s about it, just training.”