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Training camp: Nate Hobbs turns heads in return from injury

CB has been named a standout by a few reporters

San Francisco 49ers v Las Vegas Raiders
Nate Hobbs
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

Training camp got off to a slow start for Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs. About a week before camp started, the Raiders and Las Vegas Golden Knights hosted their annual charity slow-pitch softball game and we found out why Hobbs plays defensive back and not wide receiver...

He was attempting to catch a fly ball, however, the ball missed his glove and hit him in the head. Side note, watching a professional athlete struggle to make a routine play has to be a feather in the cap for all beer leaguers out there.

It’s funny now because Hobbs was able to avoid any significant injuries, but he did miss the Raiders’ first few practices of the season as a result of the error. But now, he’s back on the field and it sounds like he’s returned with a vengeance.

After Wednesday’s practice, the third full-padded affair of the year, Tashan Reed of The Athletic tweeted that Hobbs and a handful of other cornerbacks have been “really competitive” in coverage. To add more context, independent journalist Ryan Sakamoto shared that the cornerback was a pest in the one-on-one drills.

Sakamoto noted that Hobbs won reps against starting wide receivers Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow. On the rep against Adams specifically, Hobbs reportedly maintained coverage on a downfield route to get the ‘W’.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams
Nate Hobbs
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

One-on-ones typically favor the receivers because the corners are put on an island and asked to cover the entire width of the field with no help, unlike in a real game, so Hobbs coming out on top a couple of times is impressive, especially against quality competition. Also, it’s a good initial indication that he’s taking steps in the right direction.

After shining as a rookie, the 2021 fifth-round pick struggled in year two by surrendering over 150 more receiving yards than the previous season despite playing in five fewer games and only allowing just one more reception, per Pro Football Focus. He was getting beat deep more frequently as his average yards per catch yielded jumped up by over three yards; 8.5 to 11.6, adding more significance to the rep against Adams mentioned above.

Of course, we’re still a ways away from the regular season as the Raiders are still in the beginning stages of training camp and haven’t even played their first preseason game yet. But, it’s good to hear that Hobbs is starting on the right foot, especially since he easily could have entered the week behind the eight-ball and playing catchup after missing time early in camp.

Also, defensive end Maxx Crosby seems pretty confident that his teammate can turn things around this year after praising Hobbs’ work ethic and competitiveness last week.

“Nate’s obviously a great friend of mine. He’s an awesome dude,” Crosby said. “He’s relentless, he works hard. He’s young. He’s got a lot of room for improvement. He knows that, but I don’t put a limit on anybody. I think he could be a great player. There’s no doubt in my mind. I’ve seen him at his best and he’s scary, scary good.

“All I want from him is consistency. ...And as a young guy, that’s the hardest thing to do. ...[I’m] just trying to make him realize the potential and how great he can be. That’s what I try to instill in him. He’s always competing. We friggin shadow box everywhere we go. He’s one of those guys that’s constantly competing and that’s what makes him really special. Like I said, it’s limitless, his potential. He can be great.”

Hopefully, part of Crosby’s message to Hobbs is also to stay on the football field and away from the softball diamond moving forward.