This offseason Johnathan Abram learned along with his fellow Raiders 2019 first round picks that the team would not be picking up their fifth-year options. Thus making this the final year on his rookie deal.

Not having his deal picked up was a surprise to no one. He hasn’t lived up to the hype he had coming out of college. Hype that only got a boost from Hard Knocks coming to Raiders camp when he was a rookie.

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Abram came out the gates like he was fired out of a cannon, but hit a wall in his first game as a pro, injuring his shoulder, and missed nearly his entire rookie season as a result.

Then when he returned his second season, he was undisciplined and thus would give up a lot of big plays. As a result, his reputation was set as talking a lot, and playing hard, but not smart.

Since then he has been quietly changing that perception. His new head coach has noticed a different player than Abram once was.

“I think John has always been a guy who’s willing to hit anything that moves,” Josh McDaniels said Tuesday of Abram. “I think what John’s learning how to do is take his aggression and also learn how to play under control so that there’s less missed tackles or a less overrun here or there. Which is a sign of a guy who’s maturing. So, [we’re] asking him to do a lot of things, he’s answering the bell and I love the way he practices and competes and looking forward to that continuing.”

Abram’s discipline is showing up on the field.

Last Sunday against the Cardinals, he made several plays including a pass breakup in the end zone on first and goal from the three on the Cardinals’ final drive of regulation. He also came on a blitz on third down on the Cards’ first possession of the third quarter to force a three-and-out.

What he showed on those two plays was the smarts to disguise and execute a blitz and coverage abilities at crucial moments.

The previous week against the Chargers, he led the team with 12 tackles (nine solo) and helped give the Raiders a chance to come back from a 17-3 halftime deficit by holding the Chargers to one score in the second half.

He attributed that completely to the mental side of the game.

“Spending time going through the playbook, going through the call sheets before the game,” Abram said of his play in the season opener. “Making sure I’m on my cues and crossing all my T’s and dotting all my I’s as far as what they do an how it can hurt us. Just preparing.”

To be clear, Abram has not been perfect by any stretch. It’s way too early to say Johnathan Abram has been a bright spot on this Raiders team. But for him and his development — especially in what is now a contract year for him — as well as his place on this defense, he’s shown up well for himself.

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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