The pads got strapped on at Monday’s practice for the first time for the Oakland Raiders. While this gives the opportunity for the defense to shine, it was actually the offensive line that stole the spotlight. New linebacker for the team Vontaze Burfict acknowledged that the defense needs to play better.
“We had an okay day today,” said Burfict after practice. “I didn’t think that it was our best day. We got things to work on still. We’ll get back on film and see what we need to correct.”
The offense has gotten off to a strong start at training camp. Hopefully, it’s a sign of how good the offense is and not an indication of how bad the defense is going to be. The Raiders defense features a lot of new players and returning young players. There will probably be a learning curve for the unit, but there is plenty of talent to be found. One player the team is excited about is rookie safety Johnathan Abram, who’s already making his voice heard in training camp.
Johnathan Abram Owes $2,000 After Dropping INTs
In a post-practice press conference, Burfict had the chance to talk about Abram and his penchant for opening his mouth.
“He talks a little bit more than me,” said Burfict about Abram. “Sometimes we gotta tell him to shut up in the huddle. Other than that, he backs it up. Talk as much as you want as long as you back it up. He’s gotta start catching his picks. He said a thousand dollars for every pick he drops, so right now he has two thousand in the pot.”
Abram turned heads with an impressive interception of a Derek Carr pass at Sunday’s practice, but it seems like he’s still not perfect in that regard. If he’s going to honor his deal with Burfict, he’s going to have to fork over a lot of money if he keeps dropping passes. Burfict didn’t specify where the money goes. In all likelihood, it probably goes towards the defense as a whole.
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Burfict Talks Relationship with Paul Guenther
Burfict played for Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther for most of his time as a Cincinnati Bengals. He described their relationship as a “father-son” type deal. Guenther should be happy to have Burfict in Oakland. He had his best years playing under Guenther and the Raiders have struggled at linebacker for a long time. Burfict talked about how he needed a change of scenery and was eager to rejoin his old coach.
“I’m going to be there with you one day,” said Burfict to Guenther when it was revealed he was leaving to Oakland. “When the Bengals let me go, [Guenther] was the first coach to call me and I said, ‘hey, I’m on the way.’ Happy to be here.”
It could pay huge dividends for Guenther to have a veteran presence that knows his defense on the team. The unit is really young and Burfict has already established himself as a leader. Burfict has had problems with suspensions in the past, but when he stays out of trouble, he’s a pro bowl level talent. He’s only on a one year deal, so he’ll have to really impress if the Raiders are going to stick with him long term.