With new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on the sidelines, the Las Vegas Raiders defense is expected to be much better heading into the 2021 NFL season.
The Raiders added several pieces to the secondary during free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, but their improvement in that area may very well come down to the players who have already been on the roster. One key piece to watch is Johnathan Abram, who showed flashes during the 2020 season but was limited due to injuries.
Now in his third season, Abram outlined what he believes he needs to do to become a better overall football player.
“I think this year just being more consistent,” Abram said. “Playing under control, not really taking that many wild hits, getting myself knocked out of the game, hurting my own body. Then just coming in every day, coming into work and just being consistent, being disciplined. Just constantly doing my job in and out, just filling my grade sheet out with pluses every single day. Then every Sunday, I think my game will blossom.”
The safety has only played 14 games in two seasons, so Abram focused on getting healthy during the NFL offseason.
“Just try to build my body back up,” explained Abram. Last offseason was a struggle for me coming off the shoulder injury. So, this year I stayed around the facility a lot. I’ve been with our strength coach A.J. [Neibel] every single day. Him and Deuce [Gruden], those guys have been tremendous.
“I’ve gotten back to what…I’m at 100 percent, more than 100 percent honestly. I’m as strong as I’ve ever been, so for me that’s the biggest thing. Just preparing my body for these 17 weeks that we have to go through. Just being around and trying to get a head start on learning this system.”
Availability is an underrated aspect when evaluating players, and while Abram is clearly a talented safety, his inability to stay on the field has been disappointing. Knock for his physicality and aggressiveness, Abram often puts himself in harm’s way, so it is encouraging to hear that he is going to make an effort to limit those plays.
The Raiders pass defense should be improved with all the new additions, but Abrams has the potential to turn it up a notch, assuming he can stay healthy.