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Thoughts on Raiders’ Week 1 defensive snaps

We learned some things about Patrick Graham’s defense

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers
Johnathan Abram
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As it always does, Week 1 solved some mysteries as we saw how many plays each player was actually on the field for the Las Vegas Raiders in a 24-19 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers.

Some interesting facts were revealed from Patrick Graham’s new defense in the form of snap counts. Let’s breakdown what it means for the Raiders’ defense:

Abram didn’t leave the field:

I’m not sure anyone would have expected that safety Johnathan Abram would be the only Las Vegas defensive player to play all 67 snaps in this game. But that’s the reality and Abram played well as he had a game-high nine tackles. Perhaps this is the season it all comes together for Abram, who is a free agent next March after the Raiders declined his fifth-year option.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
Nate Hobbs
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Hobbs is a mainstay:

We don’t know exactly where second-year cornerback Nate Hobbs is going to be — other than knowing it will be somewhere on the field. He may be on the outside or in the slot. But Hobbs missed just one play Sunday and he was outstanding. The 2021 fifth-round pick is Las Vegas’ best cornerback and he’s only getting better.

Crosby isn’t leaving field much:

Last year, then defensive coordinator Gus Bradley tried to keep Crosby fresh after he was banged up late in his second season. He played more than 90 percent of the snaps in just two games with 93 percent being the most. Graham had Crosby on the field for 96 percent of the snaps against the Chargers. He played under 80 percent of the snaps in nine games last season. In the final seven games of the 2020 season, Crosby played, at least, 87 percent of the snaps in six of the final seven games with 81 percent being the fewest. It will be interesting to see how Graham monitors Crosby’s snaps as the season moves on. But he is coming out of the gate hot with the Raiders’ best defender.

Deablo was primary linebacker:

Second-year linebacker Divine Deablo was on the field 63 of the 67 of the Raiders’ defensive snaps. Jayon Brown was on the field for 44 plays and Denzel Perryman, a Pro Bowl player last year, was on the field for 26 plays, but he did get hurt. it will be interesting to see of the versatile Deablo, who did not have a great game, will be continue to be the Raiders’ busiest linebacker.

Defensive line rotation:

The Raiders had major turnover at this position and it will be fascinating to see the rotation develop over the coming weeks. Not surprisingly, free-agent addition Bilal Nichols led the way with 49 snaps. Andrew Billings played 36 snaps, nose tackle Johnathan Hankins played 32 snaps and Kendal Vickers played 20 snaps. Because Graham uses multiple looks and Nichols can play both end and tackle depending on the look, expect these snaps count numbers to be fluid.

Trust in Ferrell:

The No. 4 overall pick of the 2019 draft will likely never live up to his draft status, but the new regime has an open mind with him. He played 28 percent of the snaps and was the top backup pass-rusher. Malcolm Koonce played just two snaps. So, the staff currently believes more in Ferrell than Koonce.

Keep an eye on Masterson:

Undrafted rookie linebacker Luke Masterson played two defensive snaps in his first NFL game. That isn’t much, of course, but it still says something for the staff to trust him enough to play in Week 1. Perhaps we will see more of Masterson as the season unfolds.