Tuesday night the world was introduced to Johnathan Abram. He’s the Raiders rookie safety who Gruden has said many times talks a lot and is tough to keep under wraps. He has become known for being a bit of a talker between plays in practice and overzealous with his physicality between the whistles. So, it’s no wonder Hard Knocks made him the featured personality in the season premiere.
He is heard saying in the show that “Rookie” is a bad word for him. He doesn’t use it and neither does fellow first round pick Clelin Ferrell. Both are pegged as starters from day one with the team, and know they have no room to sit back and learn the ropes. Their time is now.
They don’t act like rookies. They talk a lot more than rookies typically do. They also joke around a lot. In the show they went horseback riding together and even sang and held hands a little bit. It was fun.
“That’s just me, I’m a kid off the field, man on the field,” said Abram. “That’s just me, I like to have fun.”
Today the two of them lined up across from an opposing NFL team for the first time. The Rams were in Napa for scrimmages. They are familiar with the Hard Knocks cameras being around. Back in 2016, they were the team featured on the show.
At that time, Rams QB Jared Goff was a rookie. He had some advice for the Raiders rookies; “Don’t talk to anyone. Keep your mouth shut.”
That philosophy may have suited Goff well. He was a number one overall pick quarterback with the weight of the world on him. Clearly Abram doesn’t subscribe to that.
“My philosophy is what coach Gruden tells us every single day; be yourself,” said Abram. “Don’t change up, just be yourself, because that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
Many who watched Hard Knocks Tuesday night thought Abram was laying it on thick for the cameras. He insists that’s just who he is all the time and many of his current and former teammates have said that as well.
There is also consensus on his play on the field in between his jawing sessions.
In his first practice against an opposing team, he stepped up and showed his skills and tenacity. He had a pass breakup on a long attempt from Goff to tight end Gerald Everett and later lined up on Everett, bumped him at the line, peeled off of him and smacked Cooper Kupp on a short catch. And, of course, he was steady talking in between.
In one scene on Hard Knocks, he got into it with Jon Gruden defending his physical play. At the podium after practice, he at least sounded like Gruden’s words had gotten through to him when he was asked if it was difficult for him not to unleash on the Rams today.
“Kind of, but that’s one thing that we’ve been working on, just practice etiquette,” Abram said. “Got to treat the other guys the same way they treat us. Don’t want to go out there and bang somebody and they do the same thing to our offense. Just senseless, senseless injuries.”
That’s not the tone he’s been striking up to now and certainly not the tone he struck on the show.
Speaking of those who are known for striking a different tone, a short time later Abram was talking with Steve Smith and then Marcus Peters. You won’t find many bigger trash talking players than those two. Smith of “Ice up, son” fame, and Peters being an Oakland native who Andy Reid grew tired of and traded to the Rams despite being one of the best corners in the league.
That’s one hell of a couple mentors for Abram. I mean that both honestly and sarcastically.