Safety Johnathan Abram Raiders career has just begun after bouncing back from last year’s season-ending shoulder injury to be a key piece on a young and talented defense.
When the then-Oakland Raiders traded Pro Bowler Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears in 2018, fans had mixed emotions about the deal. Then wide receiver Amari Cooper was shown the door. In return for both players, the Raiders received a cornucopia of draft picks. Those picks resulted in two players who have been crucial to the team’s strong start. Johnathan Abrams Raiders season has already been crucial for an inexperienced defense finding its identity.
Abram was selected with the 27th pick of the 2018 NFL Draft and has become a fan favorite very quickly. His hard-hitting playstyle harkens back to a previous era and is something that the new Las Vegas Raiders have been missing in recent years. Leading up to his NFL debut on Monday Night Football, Raiders fans were excited to see how the young safety’s dynamic play would help what has been a porous defense.
That’s when bad luck found the aggressive and instinctual Abram. Abram suffered a torn labrum as well as a rotator cuff after attempting a huge hit. The injury would force him to miss the entirety of his rookie season. It raised questions about how sustainable his playstyle was and if the stress it put on his body would be too much to sustain.
After sustaining such a serious injury many players may be more hesitant to throw their bodies around when they return to the field. Not Abram. He’s putting the whole league on notice and setting the tone for a Raiders defense that needs to be tougher.
Johnathan Abram Raiders Week 1 vs Carolina
To have to contain Christian McCaffrey, after not having any preseason to practice, was a tall ask for the young Raiders defense in Week 1. In his first full NFL game, even with the truncated preseason activities, Abram would lead the team in tackles and look like a stud.
Look at this play here. Once the receiver catches the ball, Abram jumps into hyperdrive and turns into a blur running across the field before tackling the ballcarrier. He’s a heat-seeking missile flying around the field and making plays and the prospect of getting to watch him make plays like this for years to come should excite Raiders fans.
Johnathan Abram Raiders Week 2 vs New Orleans
During their big Week 2 come-from-behind victory over the New Orleans Saints, the Raiders defense took some time to get going. The Saints built a 10-0 lead early in the game but at that point a switched turned, and the defense started to make plays.
Abram was a big piece of this victory as he contributed in multiple different ways no matter if it was pressuring the quarterback, breaking up passes, or stuffing the run.
On this play above, Abram looks like he is shot out of a cannon as he manages to pressure Drew Brees and force an incompletion. Abram’s value to the Raiders defense becomes more evident the more you watch him play as you realize the full extent that he is a tone-setter for the group. His energy is contagious and is something that every Raiders player could benefit from.
As Abram continues to mature he will need to learn how to pick his spots to ensure that he can stay on the field for extended periods of time. A scary incident in Week 2 saw Abram go flying into a TV cart that was too close to the field. Raiders fans everywhere held their breath until Abram managed to get up, and while it was a fluke it still is an example of the dangers that come with Abram’s play-style.
Abram should continue to be one of the Raider’s best defenders for the remainder of this season and beyond. He plays exciting, hard-hitting football and has the ability to change the momentum of a game in a second. If Abram can continue to build on the success that he has experienced in the first two weeks of the season than it bodes well for the future of this defense.